Day Twenty Four: music videos

A good (or painfully bad) music video can make or break a song. Would Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ have been as popular if it didn’t have the epic video to go along with? Possibly, yes, but you’ve got to admit it made a hell of a difference. ‘Thriller’ is probably the first music video I clearly remember watching, along with Peter Gabriel’s ‘Sledgehammer’. I was fascinated. A good concept for a video can make me to do a complete 180 on my opinion of a song. A bad video concept makes me hold my head in my hands and weep for the future of the music industry.

Some examples of good music video making for your perusal:

Foo Fighters – Best of You
http://www.vevo.com/watch/foo-fighters/best-of-you/USRW40500006

This is a prime example of how exactly to make a good music video. It still gives me goosebumps to watch all these years later. Of course it helps that it’s Foo Fighters and they can pretty much do no wrong, but I love the use of quick flashes of seemingly random images that move so fast you have to watch it a couple of times over to really take it all in. Incredibly simple but somehow still manages to pull at your heartstrings.

Sia – Chandelier
http://www.vevo.com/watch/sia/chandelier-official-video/USRV81400135

I haven’t shut up about this video since the day it came out. It is, simply put, genius. She somehow manages to create a piece of artwork in itself without ever actually distracting from the awesomeness of the song. Not to mention the insanely talented (and practically foetal) Maddie Ziegler, dance superstar at the grand old age of eleven. Watching this might will probably make you wish you’d taken up ballet at age two or that you could stop eating so much junk food, but it will also make you feel pretty damn good about life. Sia, you’ve done it again.

Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith – La La La
http://www.vevo.com/watch/naughty-boy/la-la-la/GBUV71300528

I’m not ordinarily a big fan of dance videos in general, but I completely fell in love with this. A beautiful play on The Wizard of Oz, it’s what you’d get if Mexico had a lovechild with a children’s story book. What’s not to love.

And finally, how NOT to do it (take note, future musicians):

Talk Talk – It’s My Life

I would love to have been in the room with Talk Talk’s marketing team when the decision was made to go with this particular video concept. Lead singer Mark Hollis sitting in front of a green screen wearing terrible 80’s clothes (they were all terrible in the 80’s, no?). How could this be improved on? Surely only by adding some nature program footage in the background! I am truly amazed that when No Doubt covered this song in 2003 they didn’t opt for the same approach. What a mistake, Gwen.

The Village People – Sex Over the Phone

Another example of something being so bad it’s almost good. Not that anyone expected anything Oscar worthy from the people who bought you ‘YMCA’ but wow. Just wow. After watching this I felt like I needed to bleach my eyeballs clean. Blindness would be a welcome sacrifice if it meant never having to sit through this again. See, and decide for yourself, but keep harsh chemicals close to hand.

Kanye West – Bound 2
http://www.vevo.com/watch/kanye-west/bound-2-explicit/USUV71302195

Now I find Kanye West creepy pretty much all of the time anyway, but he really cranked the creep factor up a notch with this bad boy. Add Kim “famous for nothing” Kardashian to the mix and you’ve got yourself a winner. I will never get over this man’s love for himself, which is so large it’s almost impressive. Warning: do not watch this on an empty stomach. Do however watch if you’re feeling a little down about yourself. It’s guaranteed to remind you that things could always be worse – you could be Kanye West.

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Day Twenty Three: a cup of tea

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There’s not much in life that can’t be eased by a good old fashioned British cuppa. The only real argument caused by a cup of tea, however, would be over how to make the perfect cup. According to yorkshiretea.co.uk the rules are simple;

1. Run the tap a little so the water is nicely aerated. Use water that has boiled just once – any more than that and the level of oxygen in the water is reduced and your tea can taste a bit ‘flat’.

2. Pour freshly boiled water directly onto your teabag in a mug. This way the tea infuses better than adding the teabag to water.

3. Leave to brew for 4-5 minutes according to taste.

4. Remove the teabag with a spoon giving it just one gentle squeeze.

So now you know.

There’s also the debate about whether the milk goes in first or last. Friendships have been broken by the differing opinions on this hot topic. Wars have been fought (possibly). Personally I like to put the milk in first but that could very well be due to the fact that I take my tea so weak that it has been referred to as ‘insipid’. I have friends (you know who you are) who will stew their teabag for so long the spoon practically stands up by itself, whereas I prefer to subtly wave my teabag at my milky hot water on it’s way past to the bin. Whichever way you choose to do your brew though, most would agree on the fact that it’s damn good. As someone who always feels a little uncomfortable in times of great stress and/or confrontation, I find it useful to have “Anyone for a cuppa?” in my back pocket if things get particularly hairy.

Tea is offered to those thought to be suffering from shock, and is often given after labour. Surely this is all the proof one needs that this beverage has untold magic and medicinal qualities to it. I’ve lost count of how many times I have sat curled up in a chair, under a blanket, with a good book or a trashy magazine and a steaming cup of tea, and it never fails to calm me down or relax me. In the words of C. S. Lewis, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me”. What a wise chap.

Day Twenty Two: my new blue shoes

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Were it possible to marry an inanimate object, I would marry my new blue shoes. I love them like Joanie loved Chachi, Romeo loved Juliet, like Brad loves Angelina. If I was not quite so lacking in the available funds I would totally have myself a shoe addiction. Unfortunately I have more important things to spend my limited cash on, like food, for example, and rent. And so when I do treat myself to footwear not purchased for £4 in Primark it’s a pretty big deal. I’m not talking expensive shoes here either, I’m talking about the £20-30 ballpark. Picture the scene – you’re idly wandering around Dorothy Perkins (other High Street stores are available) waiting to be inspired enough to part with your very hard-earned cash when something catches your eye. It’s a pair of shoes. They’re electric blue and made of something that would be suede if this were a much more high class establishment. Yes, they were probably still constructed by a four year old child toughing it out in a Bangladeshi sweatshop but, oh, sweet Lord, they’re beautiful. You stop. You stare. You gingerly reach out to touch the aforementioned faux-suede. It feels good. Really good. And just like that, you’re in love. You must have them. You do a quick bit of arithmetic in your head (alright, on the calculator on your iPhone) to work out if your 10% NHS worker discount will mean that you can both purchase these beautiful objects AND pay your electricity bill. It’s looking good. You feel slightly guilty about the impending purchase but not guilty enough to put the shoes back. So you head towards the counter. The sometimes friendly, always over-caked in foundation girl at the till offers you a smile. You cautiously give one in return, place the shoes on the counter and wait until time comes for payment. You slip your debit card into the machine slot and enter your PIN. Now comes what is, in my opinion, the most nail biting part of the whole ordeal – either your card will accept the price and debit your account accordingly, in which case you will leave the shop with your awesome shoes and your head held high, or…..your card will be declined. You will mutter something incomprehensible to Foundation Girl about how that card’s been giving you so much trouble lately before fleeing with your tail between your legs and the knowledge that you will never be able to shop there again. Hopefully though, and certainly in the case of The New Blue Shoes, everything goes swimmingly and you find yourself back at home, cup of tea in one hand, the other gently caressing the beautiful blue material between fingertips. Life is good. It’s very good. And you have the shoes to prove it. One day you may even have occasion to wear them, but until then, they’re pretty great to look at.

 

Day Twenty One: Supernatural

Hello everyone. *waves* My name is Katy and I am a geek. More specifically a sci-fi geek. I could quote you every line from every episode of Firefly (yes, I even signed the online petition to bring it back for season 2). I could identify an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from a single still. Joss Whedon is my hero. Now, I’m not even slightly ashamed of this admission, the only problem is that I also have quite an addictive personality which means that once I get my hooks into something there’s no letting go. I will, for example, watch 6 seasons of a TV show in a little over two weeks. Impressive? I think so.

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The show in question is Supernatural. As with most good television I arrived about 8 years late the party with this one. But I was hooked after just one episode, went out and bought the season 1-8 box set and binged. And I mean BINGED. I barely left my flat and I didn’t even care. So what was it about this show that superglued me to my couch, getting up only for pee/food breaks? Well, for starters, they’re all pretty nice to look at. I feel like this shouldn’t really matter but let’s face it, it bloody helps. Then there’s the angst. I have absolutely no interest in watching a show where everyone is happy all the time. Demons and angels as subject matter might be stretching the truth slightly but as far as I’m concerned continuous cheerfulness is even more unbelievable. Supernatural is never short of angst. I don’t think there’s a single beloved character who hasn’t died at least once. Or been heartbroken. Or quite seriously maimed. To counteract the angst there’s also an abundance of love. Brotherly love between Sam and Dean, angelic love from Castiel, fatherly love from Bobby, romantic love (though, word to the wise, anyone who has ever kissed or slept with either of the brothers has died, so you have been warned). There are also some of the best one-liners I’ve ever heard in a TV show.

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And they’re not bad at providing insults to add to your arsenal either…

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There is an episode in season six when the brothers are transported into an alternate universe by a Trickster. Here the boys (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) play themselves (Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki) playing their characters (Sam and Dean Winchester) as Sam and Dean Winchester. Got it? A bit of a mind-fuck but they totally pulled it off. Fourth wall – you are no match for Supernatural! Aha ahahaha! Ahem.

As previously mentioned, probably multiple times, I am a big fan of escapism, and shows like this allow me to do just that. For that hour or so I allow myself to become completely lost in someone else’s life. And it might on occasion be a deeply depressing life where everyone you love dies a grisly death, but it’s also a life where those same people are brought back and live to fight another day. It’s a life full of excitement and danger, of anticipation and magic. We all need a bit of magic sometimes. Go check it out and experience some for yourself.

 

Day Nineteen: the beach

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I love being by the water. I genuinely own of those ‘sounds of the waves’ CD’s that no one should admit to owning. Nothing makes me feel more at home or calmer than a quick dip of my toes in the water or poking them under warm grains of sand. My idea of what constitutes a decent beach have somewhat skyrocketed since enjoying the beautiful beaches of Oz, but I can still appreciate a good old British beach as well. My love of the water stretches to oceans, rivers, streams, hell – if it’s a puddle big enough to jump in I’m happy. There’s something very calming about the ebb and flow of the tide, the melodic sound of the waves crashing against the shore and the seemingly endless horizon. Ironically I don’t do so well on the water if travelling on anything larger than a canoe, meaning that you’ll mostly find me on dry land. I also have a shark phobia (very sensibly, I think) which can make things interesting. But I’m ok with being left ashore. I can happily tolerate the stickiness of the factor four hundred sunscreen I have to slap on my pasty white skin or the grains of sand that somehow manage to find their way into ALL the wrong places. I don’t even mind the elderly gentlemen who still insist on rocking the speedos (a bit like an eclipse, just try not to look directly at it to avoid possible blindness…). It’s all part of the experience. I’m lucky to live in a part of the country that’s not further than an hour from the sea. I remember the butterflies of excitement in my tummy as we drove closer and closer to the seaside as a child and that feeling has never gone away. What a dream it would be to live right next to the water. I wonder if the novelty would ever wear off over the years or if I would continue to be mesmerised. Now that’s an experiment I’d be more than willing to be a part of.

Day Eighteen: Selena

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I have this friend you see. She’s insanely pretty, ridiculously smart and incredibly kind. So I thought it was only right that she get her very own day of Joy on this journey. We met 4 years ago in Nowra, New South Wales, Australia. My first impressions of her were that I wished I had her confidence, envied the fact that she could seemingly talk to anyone with ease and that she had great taste in tea. She put the milk in first. We were going to be friends.

Lene is one of those people who would be so easy to dislike were they not so damn wonderful. She’s talented, funny, beautiful, generous. She’s creative and determined. There’s not a hateful bone in her yoga-stretched body and I mean that sincerely. I am yet to find something that she is not excellent at. It’s extremely annoying. Over the years she has become what I now refer to as my ‘voice of reason’. When I’m in the throws of a rant and can’t see clearly through the red mist (and let’s face it, this happens quite a lot) she is my anchor, my lighthouse in the storm of crap that is so often my brain on overdrive. We have had many little adventures together. Road trips, house-shares, gigs, weddings, good times, bad times. We’ve hung out on opposite sides of the world, sometimes together in the same place, other times via the magic of Skype.

At the time of going to press, it has been approximately 21 months since we were standing in the same spot, but to me it could have been yesterday. Distance means very little when you love people that much. I can think of no one I would rather have spent my time in Australia with. So, Lena – this is my little dedication to you. A teeny tiny thank you for being the person that you are. Don’t ever change. Not. One. Thing.