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Katya Berger

Strangest Music Collaborations

By | Featured, Music

Did you ever dream of putting Alicia Keys and Jack White, Madonna and Lil Wayne, 5ive and Queen, in the same studio to record a song together? The answer is no… never in a million years! Strangely and fantastically, some of these collaborations are brilliant. Others just sound utterly bizarre. Prepare for the unexpected while two “worlds” come together to create one “world”… with two dimensions.

Linkin Park, Jay Z & Paul McCartney – “Numb Encore/ Yesterday”

Linkin Park, Jay Z and Paul McCartney came together at the 2006 Grammy Awards to perform a medley of “Numb Encore” and “Yesterday”, a strange collaboration that unexpectedly sounded pretty damn good! Who would have thought that one of the greatest rock bands, one of the greatest rappers of our time, and one of The Beatles, could sound good together? Nobody!

Eminem ft. Elton John – “Stan”

What an unusual collaboration for a duet! The Grammy’s always seem to bring incredible talents together to perform on stage. Here’s yet another brilliant performance at the 2001 Grammy Awards, with Eminem and Elton John joining forces. Eminem was under a lot of media pressure at the time due to his homophobic lyrics and the performance was quite the hype. After finishing their number, the two talents hugged it out on stage and held one another’s hand as a symbol of a unity.

Tony Bennett duet with Dani Martín – “Are You Havin’ Any Fun?”

Strange, right? The mythical Tony Bennett collaborating with one of Latin music’s biggest stars, Dani Martín? Tony Bennett came out with a “Viva Duets” album (2012) to perform his classic songs with the help of some younger stars, including Dani Martín, Marc Anthony, Chayanne and Gloria Estefan. Bennett said in a statement: “Latin music has always been about melody and harmony and a lot of soul, so there was a very close artistic connection with each duet guest. I am absolutely thrilled about the record.” Bennett has recently come out with a “Duet II” album, featuring Lady Gaga, Carrie Underwood and Amy Winehouse. What a brilliant idea for an album!

Freddie Mercury & Montserrat Caballé – “Barcelona”

Barcelona is a single that was released by Queen’s legendary frontman, Freddie Mercury, together with one of the greatest operatic sopranos of all time, Montserrat Caballé. While Caballé’s and Mercury’s vocals are backed by a full orchestra, the song reflects Mercury’s love for opera and the ways in which the genre has influenced his singing and songwriting. The song was one of Mercury’s greatest solo hits and reached No8 in the UK Singles Chart. Curiously, it was Caballé that approached Mercury and summoned him for the task of producing the song and submitting it as the theme for the 1992 Olympics. It’s a magical duet. Bring on the goosebumps!

Michael Jackson and Eddie Murphy – “Whatzupwitu?”

This song is definitely one of the “weirdest, most terrible-yet-wonderful songs of the 90s.” The lyrics are right up MJ’s street, about saving the world. But why did he jump on Eddie Murphy’s album to collaborate on this song? Despite the music video’s title as “breakthrough” video, MTV deemed it the third worst music video in history. Indeed, it’s a “magical freak show”, with animated hearts floating around MJ’s head and music notes flying around Eddie Murphy’s, while Murphy imitates MJ’s classic dance moves. Enjoy!

Flaming Lips and Ke$ha: “You Must Be Upgraded”

In 2012, Flaming Lips and Ke$ha got together to record “You Must Be Upgraded” for the album Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends, after Ke$sha texted Wayne Coyne (frontman) to see if she could jump on their album and collaborate with them. Not only did they accept, they had planned to release a full album together entitled, Lip$ha. Unfortunately, though, the album release was mysteriously called off in November 2013, after Cole tweeted: “As of now… sadly there will be no Lip$ha… I can’t say why… it is sad”.

Alicia Keys and Jack White: “Another Way to Die”

The White Stripes’ Jack White and R&B singer Alicia Keys got together to perform the Bond theme song for Quantum of Solace (2008). Keys thought that by combining The White Stripes’ “very raw, very cut and dry” sound with hers, they could do “something really interesting that mixes rock and soul together, blues and emotion, and it could be really touching.” Time Magazine said that apart from having “no audible chemistry” and “no chorus”, “the lo-fi guitar fuzz suits Bond about as well as a rented tux.” Do we love it or hate it?

Nelly and Tim McGraw: “Over and Over”

In 2004, Nelly and country legend Tim McGraw paired up to collaborate on their hit song “Over and Over”, which topped the UK charts and reached the top ten in 11 other countries. Nelly expressed he wanted to work with McGraw because “he’s badass, he’s got game and he’s got a fine bitch!” – a comment McGraw responded to with: “that’s what Nelly said and I had to respect him for that.” What’s more, McGraw “couldn’t wait to work with him”. This song summons so many memories – we love it!

Madonna and Lil Wayne: “Revolver”

This collaboration is pretty weird and doesn’t make any sense, but it’s actually quite good! “Revolver” featured on Madonna’s greatest hits compilation “Celebration”(2009). The single release included remixes by David Guetta and Afrojack, which won the Grammy Award for Best Remixed Recording. The lyrics are about love and weapons, with a chorus that reads: “My love’s a revolver”. The song became controversial after the 2012 Aurora shootings, as the lyrics glamorise weapons. The single reached number four on Billboard’s Hot Dance Club Songs in the US.

5ive and Queen: “We Will Rock You”

Did this actually happen? 5ive, the UK’s biggest boyband (at the time) covered Queen’s famous song “We Will Rock You” for their second studio album “Invincible” (1999). The song itself featured two members of Queen – Brian May (guitarist) and Roger Taylor (drums). The song charted at No1 in the UK Singles Chart and became 5ive’s second No1 single and their ninth consecutive top hit. Let me tell you that this collaboration is quite original.

Kanye West and Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver): “Lost in the World”

Kanye featured some interesting guests on his “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” album. Bon Iver was by far the most unexpected and, even more unexpectedly, it turned out to be one of the best collaborations on the album. Justin Vernon creates a great atmosphere on the track, with his soft and emotional vocals that somehow blend in really well with Kanye’s rap verses. Indeed, according to Alex Denney (NME), their performance works to “quite brilliant effect… it frames Kanye’s inner demons in a universal way, recasting Vernon’s semi-mythical woodland retreat as his own cipher for spiritual replenishment.”

Norah Jones and Dave Grohl: “Virginia Moon”

The gorgeous Norah Jones teamed up with Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters for her 2010 “Featuring” album to record the beautiful Bossa Nova ballad “Virginia Moon”. Her soothing tone fits Grohl’s soft, raw voice like a glove.

Snoop Lion and Miley Cyrus – “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks”

The result of this collaboration is pretty strange. The pair teamed up in 2013 to record the lead single for Snoop’s twelfth studio album “Reincarnated”. The song gathered 1 million streams on its first day of release. The song is a tribute to their loved ones who they have lost and is also about smoking weed. The lyrics read: “Tonight there’s gonna be a whole lotta smoke in the air/ Blow it hard for the ones who ain’t there”. The music video highlights life’s ups and downs – a subject the pair sure knows a little about.


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Wanted on Voyage Review – Gorgeous George Ezra rocks the old school Mississippi Delta Blues

By | Featured, Music

Gorgeous George, with his gorgeous Deep South baritone folk voice, rhythmic guitar strumming and tongue-in-cheek lyrics, had us at hello when we first listened to his debut album, rich with crisp and upbeat melodies and full-throated choruses. Indeed, the album is chirpy, charming, soulful and oh so full of gusto.

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George Ezra, the 21 year-old from Hertford who went to music college in Bristol, who came fifth in the BBC sound of 2014, and who has been topping the charts across Europe with his hit single “Budapest”, released his debut album, “Wanted On Voyage”, in June earlier this year. Ezra took inspiration from the journals he kept whilst traveling and busking his way across Europe and based most of the songs on his album on his experiences. Full of adventure, “Wanted On Voyage” feels fresh, vibrant, enthusiastic and tirelessly energetic.

George Ezra – Budapest

“Blame It On Me” kicks off the album with a blazing start, with its powerful vocals that scream out Ezra’s self-confidence as a singer-songwriter. It’s quite remarkable how quickly he has us captivated and wanting more. And he sure gives us more with “Budapest”, a simple folk song with a foot-tapping baseline, in which Ezra’s solid vocals take centre stage as he tells the story about a man willing to give up everything for the one he loves, singing “for you, I’d leave it all/ Give me one good reason why I should never make a change”. Despite the single’s recycled lyrical content, Ezra strikes an authentic note, and we can’t help but adore his sweetness and sincerity.

George Ezra – Blame It On Me

This bleeds into “Cassy O’”, a song that, at first glance, just doesn’t seem to make any sense at all, whose narrative is absurd, and whose lyrics read, “I travelled to Australia and I travelled there by train”. But, in fact, “Cassy O’” is a song about the unalterable passing of Time. Ezra sings: “the bastard face kept changing and the hands they wouldn’t stop”. The track is fun, enthusiastic and powerful, and is catchy as hell.

George Ezra – Cassy O

Ezra beautifully strips it back, with his lovely and nostalgic ballad “Barcelona”, one of his more traditional songs on the album, followed with the playful track, “Leaving It Up To You”, in which Ezra contemplates an ex and her “half-wit of a boyfriend” and expresses “it’s a damn good job he isn’t here or I might have wind up harming your darling”. Ezra unexpectedly falls into an exquisite falsetto as he sings the chorus “leaving it up to you”.

George Ezra – Barcelona

George Ezra – Leaving It Up to You

“Did You Hear The Rain?” is one of Ezra’s older tracks, a stunning a cappella version of the deep dark delta blues atmosphere he adopts from his peers, and with a taste of Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. Ezra literally howls, and sings, “you can try and run and hide, tearing at the chain oh, Lucifer’s inside”. The song is interesting and soulful, with full-blown instrumentation; it’s incredibly catchy, and has a bottomless sound.

George Ezra – Did You Hear the Rain?

While “Stand By Your Gun” takes a slightly different sonic direction, experimenting with electronic keyboard disco sounds and beatbox loops, “Breakaway” takes on a deep, expressive and elegant tone. Ezra opens with bare vocals against a guitar and gradually builds the song up until a gospel choir finally kicks in toward the second half of this staggering song, and produces goosebumps. The song is breathtaking and mournful and we can’t help but play it on repeat.

George Ezra – Breakaway on BBC Introducing in the West

Ezra closes the album with “Spectacular Rival”, a song that takes on an old western feel, with Ezra’s gloomy and powerful voice reverberating and bringing the album to a spectacular climax. Here, Ezra gives us inkling as to where he’ll be taking his music next, and damn, it’s exciting!

George Ezra – Spectacular Rival

As for the songs on the deluxe album, well, they’re something quite special.

Gorgeous George is far more than a handsome face and an excellent voice. He’s reached first place after sprinting his way across the finish line, and there still seems to be more fuel in him! He’s the real deal, a howling wolf, and it’s quite clear that he’ll be coming back with more.


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Wanted on Voyage Tracklist
1. Blame It on Me
2. Budapest
3. Cassy O
4. Barcelona
5. Listen to the Man
6. Leaving It Up to You
7. Did You Hear the Rain?
8. Drawing Board
9. Stand by Your Gun
10. Breakaway
11. Over the Creek
12. Spectacular Rival

Deluxe Edition
13. Song 6
14. It’s Just My Skin
15. Da Vinci Riot Police
16. Blind Man in Amsterdam


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Upcoming Films You Must Not Miss

By | Featured, Films

With the extraordinary success of this year’s Oscar nominated and Oscar winning films such as The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyer’s Club, Gravity and 12 Years A Slave, we’ve already seen some great films reach the big screen and the bar is set sky high.

The upcoming films for the second half of 2014 are the ones that are to be considered for next year’s Academy Awards and Golden Globes, and it seems like we’re set for good ride of popcorn nights and surround sound. The trailers for 2014’s upcoming movies are captivating as hell!

We look at the top 10 most anticipated films to be released between August and December 2014.

Birdman


Birdman is a comedy-drama about a washed-up actor who once played an iconic superhero and who mounts a Broadway play in a bid to overcome his ego and family trouble, and to reclaim his past glory. The film, co-written, produced and directed by Alejandro Gonzáles Iñárritu, stars Michael Keaton, Emma Stone, Edward Norton, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifianakis, Naomi Watts, and Amy Ryan. It has been selected as the opening film of the 71st Venice Film Festival and as the closing night title for the 52nd New York Film Festival.

The film is scheduled for an October 17, 2014 release.

Interstellar


Interstellar is a sci-fi film co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight Triology” and “Inception”). The film stars a stellar cast, including Academy Award and Golden Globe winners Mathew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Michael Caine, as well as Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin and Ellen Burstyn.

Interstellar is about the discovery of a wormhole (which theoretically can connect widely separated regions of spacetime) and the brave task of explorers and scientists who embark on a voyage through it, transcending the limits of human space travel, with the goal of saving humanity. It is also a powerful story about family.

Interstellar is scheduled to be released in theatres worldwide between the 5th and 7th of November, 2014.

The Foxcatcher


The Foxcatcher is a biographical, psychological crime drama directed by Academy Award nominee Bennet Miller (“Capote” and “Moneyball”) and written by E.Max Frye and Dan Futterman (“Capote”). The film is based on the true story of Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), an Olympic wrestler who’s relationship with his sponsor John du Pont (Steve Carell) led to tragic circumstances involving his Olympic rival brother, Dave Shultz (Mark Ruffalo). The film competed for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where Miller won the award for Best Director.

The Hollywood Reporter described Carell’s performance as “career changing”, and Variety stated that Tatum’s performance was “easily the most emotionally complex performance of his career.” With extraordinary performances, gripping and emotional storytelling, “The Foxcatcher” is a heavyweight champion amongst the films to be released later on this year and is definitely a must-see for dedicated moviegoers.

The film is due to be released on November 14, 2014.

The Homesman


The Homesman is a western drama directed by Tommy Lee Jones and co-written with Wesley Oliver and Kieran Fitzgerald. The film is based on Glendon Swarthout’s novel and tells the tale of George Briggs (Tommy Lee Jones), a claim jumper and outlaw who agrees to help Mary Bee Cuddy (Hilary Swank) transport three insane women from Nebraska to Iowa in exchange for his life and freedom. The Homesman also stars Hailee Steinfeld, William Fichtner and Meryl Streep.

The film was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered. It will have its release on November 7, 2014.

Fury


Fury, written and directed by David Ayer, is an American war film about World War II, set in April 1945 as the Allies make their final push into Europe. Army Sergeant Wardaddy (Brad Pitt) commands a five-man crew and a Sherman tank on a deadly mission behind enemy lines in a heroic attempt to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany. The film stars Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Jon Berthnal, Michael Peña, Jason Isaacs and Scott Eastwood.

Fury is set to be released on November 14, 2014

The Search


The Search is a French drama directed by Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”) and is inspired by Fred Zinnemann’s 1948 film of the same name. The Search stars Academy Award nominee and César Award winner Bérénice Bejo and four-time Oscar nominee and Golden Globe winner Annette Carol Bening. The film was selected to compete for the Palm d’Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

The Search is to be released in France on November 26, 2014.

Whiplash


Whiplash, written and directed by Damien Chaselle, is the story of a young musician who struggles to make it as a top jazz drummer. It stars Miles Teller, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell, Jayson Blair and Kavita Patil. The film took top honours at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury prize and the Audience Prize. The film opened the 2014 edition of the indie film festival in January and was quickly sold to Sony Classics. The film was also screened at the Directors’ Fortnight running alongside the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and is scheduled to be screened in the Special Presentation section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Whiplash is to be released on October 10, 2014.

Lucy


Lucy, written and directed by legendary French director, writer and producer, Luc Bresson (“Léon: The Professional”), is an action-thriller starring Scarlett-Johansson and Morgan Freeman. In cinemas in the US since July 25th, the film has already grossed $100 million against a budget of $40 million. The film tracks a woman accidentally caught in a dark deal who turns the tables on her captors and transforms herself into a female action heroine and a merciless warrior that has evolved beyond human logic.

Lucy will be released in cinemas across Europe between the months of August and September 2014.

The Theory of Everything


The Theory of Everything is British biopic-drama based on the life of physicist Stephen Hawkin, starring Olivier Award and Tony Award winner, Eddie Redmayne, and Felicity Jones. The film portrays the relationship between Hawkin and his first wife, Jane Wilde, during their university years, courtship and Hawkin’s diagnosis with motor neurone disease, where he was told he had just two year to live. The film, directed by James Marsh (“Man On Wire” and “Shadow Dancer”), is scheduled to be screened in the Special Presentation section of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.

The Theory of Everything is to be released on November 7, 2014.

The Imitation Game


The Imitation Game is a historical drama about British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and computer scientist Alan Turing, who was a central figure in deciphering Nazi Germany’s Enigma code that helped the Allies win World War II and who was later criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality. Written by Graham Moore and directed by Norwegian film director, Moten Tyldum, the film will feature in the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival and will premiere in Europe at the BFI London Film Festival on October 8, 2014. The film was originally a project in which Leonardo DiCaprio was set to star, but instead features Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, alongside Keira Kightley and Matthew Goode.

The Imitation Game is to be released in UK cinemas on November 14 and in cinemas across the US on November 21, 2014.

More upcoming blockbusters to look out for:
27 August – The November Man
21 November – Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
03 October – Gone Girl
17 December – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
19 December – Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
25 December – Paddington


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“1000 Forms of Fear” Album Review

By | Music

Australian singer-songwriter, Sia Furler, claimed the Nº1 spot on the US album charts with her sixth studio album, “1000 Forms of Fear”, on the back of the success of her hit single “Chandelier”. After having spent time hiding away from the spotlight, writing hits for other artists, such as “Pretty Hurts” for Beyoncé, “Diamonds” for Rihanna and David Guetta’s “Titanium”, Sia has returned to the mic to record an album full of songs she simply could not let go of. The result – a pouring out of emotional maturity, honesty, vulnerability, humanity, creativity, all hidden beneath the layers of smart, consistent and powerful pop music.

“1000 Forms of Fear is pop music turned into pain, instead of vice versa, like we’re used to.” – Consequence of Sound.

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Indeed, Sia uses every stunning and gripping element of pop to communicate her story, writing intimate songs mostly about pain and “delivering [that] great pain with even greater triumph” through her beautiful and athletic vocal cartwheels, melodic diversity and deep lyrical content.

Sia deals with matters of love and pain as well as matters of life and death, allowing herself to dabble into an array of songs, from power-ballads to pop-classics to rock-opera anthems, that give the album an overall sense of completeness and accomplishment.

Sia’s hit single and album-opening track, “Chandelier” beautifies the diary of an alcoholic, revealing every process of the desperate cycle, with its heedless highs and its despairing lows, through a triumphal pop production and a mind-blowing vocal performance. Indeed, “Chandelier” is the Rihanna song that had too much of Sia in it to become another “Diamonds.” – Consequence of Sound. The song’s music video, featuring an amazing performance by 11-year old Maddie Ziegler, victoriously colours the song in beauty, elegance, dynamism, energy and spirit.

Big Girls Cry” is one of the most vulnerable and gorgeous songs on the album. It conveys the emotional journey into heartache, it’s “agony”, and the fear of loneliness. Sia’s vocals are coloured with pain and perfectly convey the lyrics “big girls cry when their hearts are breaking.”

While “Burn The Pages” contains all the qualities of an anthem and tells the story of a broken girl having to let go, “Eye of the Needle” is a stunning piano ballad about not wanting to let go. The chorus sings: “And you’re locked inside my heart/ And your melody’s an art/ And I won’t let the terror in, I’m stealing time/ Through the eye of the needle.” Sia’s versatile voice is glorified as she belts elastic vocals that oscillate between rock and opera.

Hostage” lightens the mood set up by the album’s opening four tracks and turns the beat up a notch. The song sounds like an early Kings of Leon-meets-Amy Winehouse-meets-Gwen Steffani toe-tapping and upbeat pop track. Yet Sia brings everything back down again in “Straight for the Knife”, a hazy and atmospheric grand ballad that dips into the world of Lana Del Rey. Full of hurt, this song is about being tormented by a lover who knows your weaknesses and uses them to cut deep beneath the layers and inflict maximum pain. Here, Sia’s presence and wandering vocals are timeless yet ephemeral at once.

Despite all the pain caused by another, “Fair Game” looks into love’s mind games and Sia admits she doesn’t play fair either in her stinging piano and drum-heavy track, which is followed by the synth-pop Diplo-produced track, “Elastic Heart”, which features in the “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” soundtrack (read our blog here) and conveys all the bravery, strength and fearlessness embodied by Katniss Everdeen. The soundtrack reached Nº5 on the Billboard 200.

While “Free The Animal” is an electric pop track that attempts to break the dualities of love/hate and love/death, the cinematic and defiant track “Fire Meet Gasoline”, uses the song’s title as a metaphor to convey the connection and passion that can exist between two people and the pain that one endures when “the fire dies”. Sia admits, “Darkened skies/ Hot ash… Only smoke is left… Certain death.”

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While the cutting-edge and hazy track “Cellophane” makes a direct reference to mental instability, helplessness and the need for love as Sia piercingly sings the lyrics “I’d have fallen through the cracks without your love tonight… while I fall apart you’ll hide my pills again”, the album’s closing track “Dressed In Black” is about Sia defeating the feeling of loneliness, as a new-found-love brings her back to life. She sings: “I was dressed in black… You took my hand in yours/ You started breaking down my walls/ And you covered my heart in kisses.”

Apart from love’s unfair game, part of the pain Sia transmits comes from her experience with fame and the consequences that come with it. The world now knows that Sia is a “reluctant star” that hides her face from the public eye and rebels against the general concept of fame. Her record deal specifies nominal promotion.

In 2013, Sia published “My Anti-Fame Manifesto (By Sia Furler)”, in which she explains that “[she] and fame will never be married.”

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Still, “1000 Forms of Fear” debuted at Nº1 on the Billboard 200 and sold 52,000 copies in the album’s first week of release. Kitty Empire (The Guardian) writes “1000 Forms of Fear” is “probably her best, the result of years of refining her art (yes, writing pop smashes is an art) and of feeling wretched and unloved despite all her success.”

Sia is, no doubt, a master songwriter and vocal brilliance – it’s clear to most that it’s Sia’s time to “shine bright like a diamond”.

To learn more about Sia, listen to her sincere and outspoken interview with Howard Stern:

Congratulations to Sia who just got married this past weekend to her boyfriend Erik Anders Lang. They tied the knot in Sia’s home town – Palm Springs, California

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Top 10 August Festivals Around The World

By | Music

Lollapalooza kicked off the August festival season by setting the bar high! Over the course of three days, Chicago’s Grant Park saw 300,000 festivalgoers and 130 artists attend the festival madness, and included headlining performances from Eminem, Skrillex, Calvin Harris and Outkast.

But it’s not over yet! Boom Festival opened its gates only a couple of hours ago and thousands of international ravers are currently making their way over for a week of magical extravaganzas.

In the pipeline are festivals in Sweden, Canada, Hungary, and in several cities across the UK and the US. Year in and year out, we are spoilt with choice when it comes to music festivals.

Boom Festival

August 04 – 11, 2014
Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal

“Boom is not only a festival, it’s a state of mind. Inspired by the principles of Oneness, Peace, Creativity, Sustainability, Transcendence, Alternative Culture, Active Participation, Evolution and Love, it is a space where people from all over the world can converge to experience an alternative reality.” – Boom Festival.

Held biannually just off the border of Spain, in Portugal, Boom Festival is a bohemian mishmash of art, music, culture and spirituality, where every festival goer is a VIP; there are no echelons, no VIP areas, no special treatments.

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Boom Festival first began in 1997, where people from all over the world would flock over to Portugal for a weeklong festival of psychedelic music, including trance, chill-out, alternative and all other sorts of electric styles. Art and performance are also a big attraction, with circus, street theatre, jugglers, fire shows, film screenings, and a variety of sculptures scattered across the grounds.

Boom Festival also focuses its sustainable spirit, art and culture, and energy to create a transformational experience for those who seek one. Free spirits are encouraged to communicate without words in order to eliminate all social and cultural norms that influence our daily lives.

The festival also provides a Healing Area, in which group workshops, sound journeys, mediation and therapy take place, and where love, compassion, wisdom, beauty, patience, acceptance, forgiveness and kindness are practiced.

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Boom also has an Environmental Program and has been recognised with the Outstanding Greener Festival Award. It strongly focuses on clean energy, encourages participants to recycle and uses biodegradable products.

Boom Festival starts today (August 4). If this bohemian experience speaks to the inner you, check out the website and book your tickets for Boom Festival 2016!

http://www.boomfestival.org/boom2014/home/

Way Out West

August 07 – 09, 2014
Gothenburg, Sweden

Seen as the “Swedish Woodstock” or the Glastonbury of the 21st Century, Way Out West has become one of the most popular cultural festivals in Europe, centred on music, film, art and a carbon-free footprint. The Swedish festival first began in 2006, after Sony, Spotify and Stockhold-based music producer Luger teamed up to host Way Out West.

With a healthy and eco-friendly mind-set, where alcohol and drugs are trumped by dancing, where camping and crowd-surfing aren’t permitted, where all food served in the park is vegetarian, and where all plates and cutlery are biodegradable and all festival merchandise are made from organic materials, it’s no wonder Way Out West has won several awards, including MTV’s O Award for Most Innovative Festival.

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During the daytime, there is a selection of 50 different musical acts on three different stages, food stalls, a merchandise market and street art installations. The park itself has a zoo, a couple of lakes, and both playing and picnic fields.

At nightfall, Way Out West transforms itself into Stay Out West. Venues, pubs, clubs, museums and churches all around the city open their doors to host a diversity of events, with international acts as well as local acts providing entertainment until the early hours of dawn.

Film and talks are also a big part of the experience. Music videos screenings and documentaries are played in theatres across the city, while art, advertising and journalism talks are held in auditoriums.

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The musical roster is an impressive one and has seen the likes of Prince, Florence and The Machine, Sigur Rós, Public Enemy and Manu Chao bless the stage. This year’s line-up is of no disappointment either – acts such as Outkast, Clean Bandit, Jamie XX, Queens of The Stone Age, Icona Pop and Little Dragon are to perform (to list a just few!).

For more info click here.

Shambhala

August 08 – 11, 2014
Salmo, Canada

Apparently at Shambhala, “DJ’s play in the heart of the forest out of burnt-out, old grown cedar tree stumps while surrounded on all sides by fire-breathers, hula dancers, fairies, furries, and various creatures of night.” – 300fest.

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Every year, the Bundschuh family open the gates to their 500-acre Salmo River Ranch, to host the largest EDM festival in Western Canada. Shambhala Festival, first created by the Bundschuh kids in 1998, with two stages and 500 attendees, now has six stages and over 10,000 attendees. With 200 shambassadors (volunteers) and no corporate sponsorship, this extended family affair, filled with team spirit and a feel-good, cosy, home-y vibe, has achieved more than any working ranch, with cows, horses, pigs, chickens, and miniature donkeys, would have expected.

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More than just an EDM rave, Shambhala has art installations, painted murals, yoga platforms, meditation bays, craft workshops, ethical fair trade vendors, hip-hop and beatboxing acts.

To get involved, click here.

Sziget

August 11 – 18, 2014
Budapest, Hungary

Sziget festival has been described as “an electronically amplified, warped amusement park.” Held on the island of Óbudai-Sziget, in the heart of Budapest, Sziget has become one of the most popular European festivals, and has recently received the merit of “Europe’s Best Major Festival” for its 24h jumble of music, art, food, performance and regional culture. There’s also a luminarium!

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The festival has been deemed the Eastern European Burning Man (see below), but its array of musical experiences sets it apart from any other festival. The musical diversity showcased at Sziget certainly has something for everyone.

Plus, the city of Budapest is itself a huge attraction. You’d be crazy not to escape from the island madness for a day and discover one of the only cities left in Europe that has a raw vibe to it.

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This year’s line-up includes Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Skrillex, Bastille, Imagine Dragons, The Kooks, Stromae, London Grammar and so many more.

This one is a definite must! For more details, visit the website.

Creamfields

August 22 – 24, 2014
Daresbury Estate, United Kingdom

Creamfields, one of the largest electronic dance music festivals in Britain featuring live acts and DJ’s, has set off a dozen other Creamfield festivals around the world. The 3-day event, held on August bank holiday weekend in Daresbury, expects 200 artists to fill 11 stages during the course of the weekend. Party people are looking forward to huge LED screens, VIP lounges, cocktail bars, fairground rides, and silent discos, to top off their rave experience that includes a cocktail of genres such as drum ‘n’ bass, techno, dubstep, electronica and deep, hard, tribal, funky and indie house.

Creamfields was spawned by the success of Liverpool’s nightclub, Cream. The success of Cream’s weekly music night that showcases international DJ’s led to Cream hosting a night in Amnesia, the award-winning and world famous nightclub in Ibiza. Cream then launched itself into the festival market in 1998. Creamfields has since expanded its reach and has organised festivals in Dublin, Buenos Aires, Andalucía, and more.

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Creamfields has one of the most vibrant summer music festival vibes around. This year’s line-up is yet again unbelievable.

For a last minute chance to see Avicii, Deadmau5, Armin Van Buuren, Steve Angelo, Eric Prydz, Maya Jane Cole, Skream, Pete Tong, Joris Voorn and so many others, all in one place, check out the website!

Notting Hill Carnival

August 24 – 25, 2014
London, United Kingdom

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“A battle of the bands makes for some frenetic and full-contact dancing. The costumes are as beautiful as the copious amounts of bare flesh, with silver-sequined G-strings shaking to the sound of samba.” – 300fest.

Recognised as one of the largest street festivals in the world, Notting Hill Carnival uses music and dance as a means to interconnect cultures. The festival was first set up to celebrate diversity and shake off racial tensions.

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Before Notting Hill became a “poshemian” (boho and posh) district around the 1980s, it was a run-down neighbourhood home to West Indian immigrants. In January 1959, following the 1958 Notting Hill race riots in which a mob of 300 plus working-class whites attacked West Indian immigrants in their Notting Hill homes, an immigrant from Trinidad decided to throw a carnival in St. Pancras Town Hall in a celebration to repair cultural differences and celebrate heterogeneity. Since, it has escalated to the Jamaican hippie-inspired festival that it is today and brings in at least £100 million a year.

With its mixture of scenes, from family-friendly events to parades with costumes that take on a sexy twist on “Adult Day”, with a mixture of floats ranging from masquerade to steel drums to calypso and SOCA, the musical clashes end up sounding like a mashup of calypso vs. drum ‘n’ bass and dancehall vs. disco.

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There’s also a bunch of street vendors along the route, selling jerk chicken and other typical Caribbean dishes in between the music and dancing.

Notting Hill Carnival is one of the wildest outside of Rio. Click here for more info about the event.

Burning Man

August 25 – September 1, 2014
Black Rock Desert, Nevada, United States

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The Burning Man Project takes place in the middle of the Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, USA. For 7 days, Black Rock City is a place of community, art, self-expression and self-reliance, where the people are guided by ten principles that echo the cultural spirit of the event: radical inclusion, gifting, decommodification, radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation, immediacy.

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It is a place built by the participants from scratch and where everything is set on fire at the end, to leave without a trace. The burning of the large wooden effigy (the burning man) ritually takes place on the Saturday night. Within the city are innovative sculptures, installations, performances, theme camps, art cars, and all-flower costumes. The temperature drops below 0 degrees C at night and soars to 45 degrees C during the day.

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To join the movement, check out Burning Man’s website.

Electric Picnic

August 29 – 31, 2014
Stradbally, Ireland

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“The Picnic is, in short, a picnic, a feast for the intellect, aesthetic and all the senses via its music, art and narrative.” – 300fest.

Electric Picnic is a quirky and weird boutique festival held in the green Irish countryside.

Aside from its eclectic line-up that includes Foals, Paolo Nutini, Chic ft. Nile Rodgers, Lilly Allen, Flume, Clean Bandit, James Vincent McMorrow, SBTRKT, London Grammar, Metronomy… It has a Body & Soul stage made from fallen trees, a collection of creative art installations, with trails that meander “under circus top tents, through fairy-tale forests and past psychedelic installations”. It also has a Trailer Park, in which you may find a jumble of painting, graffiti, installations, electronica, performance art, public theatre, restaurants, mini music venues, carnivals, and a bunch of caravans.

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What’s more, there is a Comedy Tent that showcases great Irish comedy, which is considered one of the most important events of the Picnic and is an integral part of the whole Electric Picnic experience. There is also a Spoken Word area that seeks to carry on the Irish storytelling tradition, with talks that range from love to loss to TED-style talks, on subjects ranging from pop culture to academia. Plus, there is an area dedicated to oral performance in Gaelic.

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The festival is sold out this year. See tickets for next year.

Electric Zoo


August 29 – 31, 2014
Randall’s Island Park, NYC, United States

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Electric Zoo Festival, held annually over Labour Day weekend, is an electric music festival that gathers top international DJ’s and live acts on New York City’s Randall Island. Since it first began in 2009, the festival has received International Dance Music Award nominations for Best Music Event in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. In 2013, Electric Zoo announced that it would expand and launch the first edition of Electric Zoo in Mexico City in May 2014.

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Due to a tragic incident at last year’s festival, where two members of the Electric Zoo family were lost to a drug overdose, Electric Zoo has released a statement that reads: “Our hearts are heavy, by our resolve is firm. Drugs have no place in this celebration.” This year, festival goers are expected to come together and enjoy the music, while they dance without Molly.

This year’s line-up includes David Guetta, Nicky Romero, Dubfire, Jamie XX, Laidback Luke, Sub Focus, Kaskade, Chase & Status, Netsky, and the list goes on!

For more info, visit the official website.

Bumbershoot


August 30 – September 01, 2014
Seattle, Washington, United States

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Bumbershoot is not just a festival, it’s many festivals in one, over the course of three days. Bumbershoot is a music festival, as well as a comedy, literature, theatre, film, visual arts, history, pop culture festival… with some much more to offer than the latter.

With it’s amazing line-up, over 100 film screenings, mini intimate venues, artisan chocolate markets and, believe it or not, scheduled zombie walks, Bumbershoot sounds like a place full of fun!

It’s also family-friendly, with free access passes for kids and a Youngershoot within the festival confines, where kids can act, paint, sing dance, and basically have as much fun as their parents, if not more!

For more info, click here!

To Infinity & Beyond

By | Music

If there’s a superhero in you and you feel like you have the power to save the world, then this is your playlist. Grab your cape and mask, and let the action begin!

Here’s a look at some of the most inspiring superhero theme songs out there, as well as songs written and performed by some of our all time favourite bands and musicians who feature on these superhero movie soundtracks.

Superman Theme – John Williams (1978)


“Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith first. The trust part comes later” – Man of Steel (2013)

Williams conducted the London Symphony Orchestra to record the Superman soundtrack, made up of three main components: a fanfare, a march and a love theme. The structure of the theme contributes to the emotional power of the song. Director Richard Donner was unable to contain his excitement and ruined the first take of the original recording session for the film’s theme by shouting: “Genius! Fantastic!”

The Superman theme was nominated at the 36th Golden Globes for Best Music (Original Score) and won a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

Ghostbusters Theme – Ray Parker, Jr. (1984)


“We came, we saw, we kicked ass!” – Dr. Peter Venkman

“Ghostbusters” was recorded by Ray Parker, Jr. in 1984 and reached Nº1 on Billboard Hot 100 and reached Nº2 on the UK Singles Chart, staying there for three weeks. Parker only had a few days to complete the song. He was inspired by a cheap commercial on TV and thus, wrote a pseudo-advertising jingle for the movie soundtrack.

It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music (Original Song).

Spider-Man Main Title – Danny Elfman (2002)


“With great power comes great responsibility” – Uncle Ben

Sony released Danny Elfman’s Original Motion Picture Score for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in June 2002. It fuses traditional orchestration, ethnic percussion and electronic elements. It was nominated for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media at the 45th Grammy Awards.

The Hulk Theme – Danny Elfman (2003)


“Hulk Smash!”

Danny Elfman composed the soundtrack to Ang Lea’s film adaptation of the Hulk, released in 2002. Allmusic’s review states: “Elfman tried to fuse his own quirky, often tense style, with a more overtly serious, droning sound that feels more akin to the work of Hans Zimmer.”

The Incredibles Theme – Michael Giacchino (2004)


“I never look back, darling, it distracts from the now” – Edna Mode

Michael Giacchino scores his first Pixar film, The Incredibles, in 2004. It’s a fun track that mixes spy/adventure music from the 60’s with fun jazz music.
The theme won several awards for Best Score and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

The Dark Knight Trilogy Themes – Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard (2005 – 2012)


“It’s not who I am underneath, but what I do that defines me” – Bruce Wayne

Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard co-composed the soundtracks to The Dark Knight Trilogy, which includes Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight rises (2012), however Howard did not return to complete the score of the third film of the franchise. Regarding his departure, he said: “I just really felt that I had made what I felt like I could contribute to the series, and I always felt that Hans was the mastermind of those scores. I mean, they really sounded the way they sounded because of him. His conception of the scores was really brilliant. It’s not that I didn’t add a lot, I did, but I don’t think I added the aspects of the music that really defines the character of those movies”.

The score of The Dark Knight (2008) won the Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media.

Iron Man Movie Theme – Ramin Djawadi (2008)


“Iron Man – That’s kind of catchy. It’s got a nice ring to it” – Tony Stark

The Iron Man Original Motion Picture Soundtrack was composed by Ramin Djawadi and released in May 2008. The Iron Man main theme song for the Jon Favreau’s 2008 adaptation of Marvel Comic’s Iron Man has been described by AllMusic as a “slow-built menace of Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard’s work on Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise and dials an industrial army that utilizes crushing percussion, huge strings, and a symphony of distorted guitars, that echo Metallica’s concerts with the San Francisco Symphony, minus the vocals.”

Captain America: The First Avenger Theme – Alan Silvestri (2011)


“This isn’t freedom. We’re holding a gun to every citizen’s head and calling it security” – Captain America

Composed by Alan Silvestri and released in June 2011, the Captain America theme has been deemed by Jonathan Broxton of Movie Music UK as “one of the most enjoyable scores of the summer for one single reason – it’s fun… much like the film it wears its heart on its sleeve and has a simple intent: to excite you, to entertain you, and leave the experience smiling.” Allmusic have reviewed it as: “appropriately stoic and expansive… both familiar and iconic… it’s enjoyable and effective, but not groundbreaking, which pretty much sums up the score as a whole”.

Here’s the extended playlist:


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The 20 Most Iconic Album Covers of All Time

By | Music

Album covers have sadly become a lost art in the twenty-first century. Stemming from the international standardization of MP3 in the early 90’s, to the iPod revolution in the early 2000’s, to the rise of today’s download and stream-friendly platforms like iTunes, YouTube and Spotify, album covers have regretfully been reduced to the size of a stamp and are only truly cherished by a small minority of people.

This will explain why some of the best and most iconic album covers date back to the 60’s and 70’s – a time all music lovers associate as the ‘glory’ years; a time when everything to do with music was treasured at its face value; a time when album covers captured “the dreams, hopes and fears of a music-loving generation” and when studying the sleeve was part of the whole-rounded experience of owning an LP.

Here are our picks for the 20 greatest album covers of all time. We review our favourite 10 in date-release order.

1. The Velvet Underground – “The Velvet Underground and Nico” (1967)

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The bright yellow banana that graced the cover of The Velvet Underground and Nico’s debut album has become one of the most recognised pieces of pop artwork ever, crafted by the most popular pop artist ever, Andy Warhol, who also produced this 1967 protopunk album. The original album cover was interactive, telling fans to “peel slowly and see” and allowing them to peel back the banana skin sticker that revealed a pink banana underneath. Part of the reason behind the album’s delayed release was because manufacturers found it hard to pull-off the sexually charged effect of peeling the banana.

Although the album saw no commercial success, the band eventually became a cult favourite in the decades after The Velvet Underground broke up. Today, the album has become a rare collector’s item and an emblem of the protopunk genre.

2. Cream – “Disraeli Gears” (1967)

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Created by Australian artist, Martin Sharp, the cover of Cream’s “Disreali Gears” album has become an icon of spiralling fluorescent movement of the 60’s. Sharp combined Victorian elements and loads of “flower-power” roses and feathers with a publicity photo he had been given by Eric Clapton. Sharp attempted to capture the sound of the psychedelic music in the cover, which he described as a “warm, fluorescent sound”, by first drawing the cover in black and white and then colouring it in with fluorescent, eye-stinging, colours.

3. The Beatles – “Abbey Road” (1969)

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Those who believed Paul McCartney’s death myth in 1967 analysed the cover of Abbey Road. They believed that McCartney has been replaced by a dopplegänger and interpreted the picture as a funeral procession, with John Lennon as the preacher (dressed in white), Ringo Star as the mourner (dressed in black), George Harrison as the gravedigger (dressed in denim) and Paul McCartney as the corpse (walking barefoot). They also believed that the license plate in the background read 281f, symbolising McCartney’s death at the age of 27 (when the album came out) and making people think the message was intended to represent McCartney turning 28, had he not died. All of the latter was pure coincidence. The Beatles shot the cover of the album on August 8th, 1969 outside of Abbey Road studios.

The cover is the most recognised album cover in pop music history and has been parodied several times. Today, Abbey Road is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the London area.

4. The Rolling Stones – “Sticky Fingers” (1971)

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“Sticky Fingers” was The Rolling Stones’ first album for Atlantic Records, which provided them with the budget to mass-produce their cover art with an actual zipper. Designed by Andy Warhol, the zipper on the album’s cover could be unzipped to reveal white underwear with the Rolling Stones’ tongue logo plastered on it. Nobody seems to know who exactly was the man in the underwear, but it wasn’t Mick Jagger’s crotch, contrary to the popular myth.

5. Pink Floyd – “Dark Side Of The Moon” (1973)

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The design of the iconic album cover for “Dark Side Of The Moon” represents three elements; the band’s stage lighting, that comes through via the prism of light, Richard Wright’s request for a “simple and bold” graphic design, and a triangle to symbolise thought and ambition, a subject that comes through in the album lyrics. The initial inspiration for the album cover art was a black and white photo of a prism on top of some sheet music, with a colour beam going through it. Storm Thorgerson, George Hardie, and the team at Hipgnosis, took these initial ideas as a starting point and eventually came up with the iconic prism-and-rainbow design set against a black background.

6. Led Zeppelin – “House Of The Holy” (1973)

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Inspired by the ending of Arthur C. Clark’s novel, “Childhood’s End”, which portrayed several hundreds of naked children wandering the earth, Led Zeppelin’s artwork for their “House Of The Holy” album has become one of the most iconic and most mysterious album covers of the 70’s. Produced by the design firm Hipgnosis, the cover was shot on the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Audrey Powell, who designed the cover, photographed two children, a brother and sister, over the course of ten days at dusk and at dawn. The children were to originally be tinted in gold and silver but the hand tinting accidentally went wrong. Powell explains: “when we hand-tinted it, the airbrush artist, by accident, put a kind of purple tinge onto them. When I first saw it, I said, “Oh, my God.” Then we looked at it, and I said, “Hang on a minute, this has an otherworldly quality.” So we left it as it was”. The siblings were later multi-printed to create a small army of 11 children.

7. The Sex Pistols – “Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols” (1977)

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According to Steve Jones, the album’s title, which was originally going to be titled God Save Sex Pistols, was taken from two fans who would always say the phrase “never mind the bollocks” to one another. Due to the album’s indecent use of language, the police filed an obscenity case and tried to prosecute Virgin Rercords for displaying it on their shop shelves. The Sex Pistols and Virgin Records were found not guilty after their lawyer, Queen’s Council John Mortimer, produced expert witnesses who could demonstrate that the word “bollocks” was a legitimate Old English term originally used to refer to a priest, and which also meant “nonsense”, in the context of the title.

Art director of the Sex Pistols and designer of the album cover, Jamie Reid, explains: “I saw Punk as part of an art movement that’s gone over the last hundred years, with roots of Russian agitpop, surrealism, dada and situationism”.

The cover became a blueprint for punk design.

8. The Clash – “London Calling” (1979)

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Pennie Smith captured one of the most iconic pictures in rock music history, while taking pictures of the Clash at New York’s Palladium in September of 1979.

Simonon explains: “we weren’t getting any response from them [the audience], no matter what we did. I’m generally good-natured, but I do bottle things up and then I’m like a light switch, off and on, and it can be quite scary, even for me, when I switch, because it’s very sudden. Onstage that night I just got so frustrated with that crowd and when I go to the breaking point I started to chop the stage up with my guitar”.

…Talk about rock n’ roll!

9. Nirvana – “Nevermind” (1991)

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The naked baby floating underwater on Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album is one of the most eye-catching album covers of all time. According to photographer Kirk Weddle, the image was “a fluke”. Kirk completed the shoot at a public pool in Pasadena in Southern California, after convincing his friends to use their four-month-old baby boy for the cover, of which the original concept was to capture an underwater birth. Kirk explained: “the mom was on my left, and blew a puff of air into the child’s face… then we dunked him in and, bang bang, pulled him out. We did it twice and that was it”. The fish hook and dollar bill were added by the record label’s art department as finishing touches. Indeed, “the baby has a platinum album”, says Kirk. Today, Spencer Eden, the infamous naked baby, admits: “It’s kind of creepy that many people have seen me naked… I feel like the world’s biggest porn star.”

10. Santana – “Corazon” (2014)

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Santana’s unique cover art for the latest and very first all-Latin music album “Corazon” was designed by art collective Boa Mistura, who is based in Madrid and works on public art pieces and developing projects in South Africa, Norway, Berlin, Sao Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro. Full of bright colours, this album cover is a beautiful eye-catcher.

11. Frank Sinatra – “In The Wee Small Hours” (1955) / 12. The Beatles – “Revolver” (1966)

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13. King Crimson – “In The Court Of The Crimson King” (1969) / 14. The Who – “Who’s Next” (1971)

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15. Stevie Wonder – “Innervisions” (1973) / 16. Elton John – “ Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” (1973)

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17. Pink Floyd – “Wish You Were Here” (1975) / 18. The Eagles – “Hotel California” (1976)

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19. Supertramp – “Breakfast In America” (1979) / 20. Prince – “Purple Rain” (1984)

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The Greatest Animated Music Videos

By | Music

Animated music videos, including cartoon, motion graphics, 3D, lo-fi and hand-drawn animation, have become a big hit throughout the MTV Generation. The animated style has become a go-to for artists on tour who don’t have time to appear for shoots, who don’t want to appear in their own clips, who have a tighter budget, or even artists who simply choose animation for stylistic purposes. 

By putting together a playlist of some of our favourite animated videos, including promos by Queen, Bjork, Gorillaz and Daft Punk, we honour the talented designers and illustrators behind some of the craftiest and most colourful music videos in our digital modern age.

The videos are featured in date-release order, following the evolution of digital animation.

Dire Straits – Money For Nothing (1985)


‘Money for Nothing’ was Dire Straits’ most successful single, peaking at Nº1 for three weeks in the US. Taken from their hugely successful 5th studio album ‘Brothers in Arms’, the song won a Grammy for the Best Rock performance. The album proved to be the band’s crowning glory selling more than 25 million copies worldwide. It was also the first album to sell a million copies in the new CD format. 
The music video featured early computer animation illustrating the lyrics and was one of the first uses of computer-animated human characters – it was considered ground-breaking at the time of its release. When MTV Europe launched in 1987 this was the first video they played which contained the appropriate line ‘I Want My MTV’! The video was awarded “Video of the Year” (among many other nominations) at the third annual MTV Video Music Awards in 1986.

Leave Me Alone – Michael Jackson (1987)


The music video for ‘Leave Me Alone’, directed and produced by Jim Blashfield and Paul Diener, combines stop motion animation and weird imagery, including shrines to actress Elizabeth Taylor, tabloid videos of MJ’s personal and public life, a nose being chased by a surgical scalpel in reference to Jackson’s plastic surgery, all of which compliment the song’s paranoid feel towards the paparazzi and the media. The video won Best Short Film Music Video at the Grammy Awards in 1990 and Best Special Effects at the 1989 MTV Video Music Awards. It also received 6 nominations for Video of The Year, Viewer’s Choice, Breakthrough Video, Best Editing and Best Art Direction. After MJ’s death, Rolling Stone referred to the track as “Jackson’s most monumental song”.

Innuendo – Queen (1991)


‘Innuendo’ immediately shot to Nº1 in the UK Singles Charts in 1991. It is the lengthiest of Queen’s songs ever to be released as a single. The music video, directed by Jerry Hibbert and Rudi Dolezal, inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, has been described as one of the band’s darkest and most moving works. The use of live action with stop motion animation, eerie plasticine figurines, montage and illustrations, accommodates Queen’s prog-rock, heavy metal, flamenco and rock opera sound of the early 90s. While Freddie Mercury is drawn in the style of Leonardo da Vinci, Brian May is drawn in the style of Victorian print, Taylor in the style of Jackson Pollock, and Deacon in the style of Pablo Picasso.

Hold me thrill me kiss me kill me – U2 (1995)


Written for the ‘Batman Forever’ soundtrack, the American top 20s smash was nominated for a Golden Globe. Inspired by the world of comic books, it was only fitting that the band members of U2 would appear as cartoon superheroes and villains performing in Gotham City in the animated video clip. Directed by Dave King, the video also uses clips from the third installment of Tim Burton’s Batman film series.

Paranoid Android – Radiohead (1997)


The animated music video for ‘Paranoid Android’, created by Magnus Carlsson, is drawn in a simplistic style, using bold colours and clear, graphic lines. It features Robin, the character from the Swedish animated series ‘Robin’, and his friend Benjamin setting out into the world, running into EU representatives, bullying pub patrons, and featuring a prostitute, two men kissing, a drug addict, deranged businessmen, mermaids and an angel who plays table tennis with Robin. The video is indeed bizarre and hard to figure out!

Freak On A Leash – Korn (1999)


The animated music video for the late 90s funk-metal sounding track, ‘Freak On A Leash’, directed by Todd McFarlane, contains a mixture of animation and live performance footage. The video combines “special effects and clever camera moves in the live action portion of the video”, while it follows the journey of an accidentally-fired bullet travelling out of the animated cartoon realm and into the real world, damaging property and flying around the members of Korn, before it makes its way back into the animated world. The video received awards for Best Editing and Best Rock Video at the 1999 MTV Video Music Awards and also won a Grammy Award for Best Short Music Video in 2000.

One More Time – Daft Punk (2000)


The music video animation in Daft Punk’s dance-pop classic track ‘One More Time’ later appeared in the 2003 Japanese animated film ‘Interstella 5555: The 5tory of 5ecret 5tar System’. The video, directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi under the visual supervision of Leiki Matsumoto, illustrates a pop-band made up of blue-skinned aliens performing a song on their home planet, while a bizarre force approaches it.

Californication – Red Hot Chilli Peppers (2000)


‘Californication’ is still one of the band’s most popular songs. The animated music video, directed and produced by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, has over 110 million views on YouTube. The video takes the form of a video game, which intercuts with live-action footage of the band performing. The game is filmed from a third-person point of view of each of the band members, all of whom are on different adventures within the game. Eventually, the band members end up turning back from 3D computer-generated avatars into their real selves, as the message on the screen reads ‘Game Over’.

Feel Good Inc. – Gorillaz ft. De La Soul (2005)


The alternative rock song, ‘Feel Good Inc.’, by the British virtual band Gorillaz, won Best Pop Collaboration at the 2006 Grammy Awards, Best Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects in a video at the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards. Directed by Jamie Hewlett and Pete Candeland, the music video mixes CGI with two-dimensional animation to create a textured and layered effect, with Japanese-inspired colours, textures and tones. The animated video’s main themes approach the issues of intellectual freedom and the media-induced dumbing down of mass culture.

Wanderlust – Björk (2008)


Björk has said that ‘Wanderlust’ is about “being in the state of something and almost knowing you’re never going to find it”. The strange and uncanny animated music video, directed by Ecyclopedia Pictura, presents us with a kaleidoscopic vision, by using a mixture of animation, large-scale puppets, live action acrobatics, miniature clay figurines and CGI. The video also uses pillarboxing – an effect that occurs on widescreen displays when black bars are places on the sides of the image, shrinking the original image and placing it in the centre of the widescreen frame. The video won Best Art Direction, Best Alternative/Indie Video and Video of The Year at the 2008 UK Video Music Awards. It was also nominated for Best Special Effects.

Heartless – Kanye West (2008)


Kanye West teams up with director Hype Williams, for a vibrant tribute to Ralph Bakshi’s 1981 film ‘American Pop’. It features rotoscope animation (a technique in which animators trace over footage, frame by frame, for use in live-action and animated films) and references several scenes and background from the film. The video was William’s first animated clip. ‘Heatless’ is one of the best-selling singles of all time, selling 5.5 million digital copies in 2009, alone.

Strawberry Swing – Coldplay (2009)


Coldplay’s sweet melody, with afro-pop influences and alternative rock vibes, became a top 5 hit in several European charts. The music video for ‘Strawberry Swing’, directed by Shynola, features stop motion animation, with frontman turned superhero Chris Martin lying on the ground against animated chalk drawings, as he rescues a damsel in distress. The video was nominated for Best Animation at the MTV Video Music Awards 2009 and for Breakthrough Video at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards.

Get Busy Living – Goldfish (2010)


Goldfish are know for their stylistic and comedic animated music videos, most of which have connecting stories, use recurring characters and which usually feature pop culture references. The music video for ‘Get Busy Living’, directed and animated by Mike Scott, was the official video for Goldfish’s first single from their self-titled album.

The Shrine – Fleet Foxes (2011)


Sean Pecknold, brother of Fleet Foxes frontman Robin, directed the haunting animated music video for ‘The Shrine’. It’s an eight-minute long video about a carnivorous antelope “travelling across a hostile, fantastical landscape”.

Miss Atomic Bomb – The Killers (2012)


Director Warren Fu fuses the two mediums of animation and live-action shots to bring to life a heartbreaking love story in the animated music video for ‘Miss Atomic Bomb’. The video has been characterized as “the epic companion to Mr. Brightside”, as it continues the love triangle depicted in the latter video, released in 2004. Actress Izabella Miko and actor Eric Roberts re-adopt and re-enact their roles from the ‘Mr. Brightside’ video and approach the story from a different point of view.


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“Something Quite Special” – An Interview with Lewis Watson

By | Music

21-year-old British pop singer-songwriter/acoustic-guitarist, Lewis Watson, is a name rising to the global skyline. The YouTube sensation-turned prolific iTunes chart topper, has released five EP’s and an album since his 2012 debut, and has built a following of over 100,000 Facebook likes, 70,000 Twitter followers, five million YouTube views and five million Spotify streams. Watson’s album “The Morning”, released on July 8, is charged with powerful melodies and has storytelling qualities that tremble with sensitivity, charm, honesty and maturity.


Lewis chose our Sunday Sessions this week!


The Oxfordshire-born troubadour began his road to stardom at the somewhat tardy age of 16, when he was given a guitar for his 16th birthday and began uploading his tunes on YouTube. Watson soon landed a deal with Warner Bros after releasing his first EP “BTW”. The charming boy-next-door, with his folk-rooted sound, is indeed “something quite special”. Having yielded singles such as “Calling”, “Even If” and “Stay”, toured with the likes of Birdy and Benjamin Francis Leftwich, and having already achieved success in the States and Australia, Watson is sure as hell ready for the big leagues.

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How exciting! You just released your debut album “The Morning”! How do you feel right now?
Thank you! Yeah, it’s a bit wacky but amazing… still pinching myself, really.

Before the release of your first album, you released 5 EP’s in the space of two years, and were already rising up the charts worldwide. Did you ever expect such great success so early on in your career?
Never, I didn’t expect any ‘success’ full stop, to be completely honest. My outlook on life (which is a terrible one!!) is that if you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed. I wish that wasn’t how I looked at things but it’s all I can do! I have been so overwhelmed with everything up to this point and I think I like it that way.

You picked up music relatively late in your life. What was it that sparked your desire to follow music as a career? And how did you get so good so fast??
Haha, thanks! I’ve always been a big fan of music and I think that anybody who loves music would love to create it. For me, the tipping point was that music started meaning more and more to me with every song I listened to. Lyrics started to really resonate with me and I couldn’t stop wanting to give it a go. I always thought the guitar would be a lot harder than it was – although it’s quite tough! – I thought it’d be impossible. I just found that the more I played guitar, the more I wanted to improve and so I dedicated all of my time to it.

You’ve collaborated with some very talented artists on your EP “Some Songs With Some Friends”: Gabrielle Aplin, Kimberley Anne and Hudson Taylor. What did you take away from that experience?
That I have some super talented mates! It was a joy being in the studio with them and, being a big fan of all of their music, it was an honour that they’d want to jump on a track with me.

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Out of all the countries you’ve been to and out of all the shows you’ve played, which was your favourite city and what was your most memorable moment?
Probably Sydney Opera House in Australia (obviously…) I played 3 nights there with Birdy and I just felt so welcome. I was the support and, although a few people had bought tickets because I was there, it wasn’t my crowd and I was pretty scared to play to that many people who didn’t know me. It went so well, though! Everybody seemed to be really into it (or pretending at least) and I went away feeling very grateful. Not only is Australia a lovely country but the people are brilliant.

What can we expect from a live show and what’s the funniest/craziest thing that’s happened to you on stage?
I’m a fairly nervous (babbling) performer when it comes to speaking and in-between song jokes, etc. However, I’m lucky to have a great band and I do have a great time playing the songs and that’s all that matters, right?

How did you feel when you first heard your song play on the radio?
It was crazy! I remember I was on a bed in a Manchester hotel on tour with Gabrielle Aplin when Zane Lowe played my song “What About Today’. I had no idea he was going to play it and I got very warm. Chuffed.

Do you think you could ever get used to hearing an audience sing your lyrics back at you?
Never. Those lyrics were written by me, for me, and to think that other people are singing them for their own reasons is amazing. I’m paraphrasing but Dave Grohl once said ‘50,000 people can be singing my lyrics back to me and it’s for 50,000 different reasons’ (or something like that) and that blows my mind… (Not quite 50,000 for me though, Dave)

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What do you do when you get writer’s block?
I just stop writing. It’s a horrible feeling but getting frustrated because you can’t write is worse. It really puts you off writing and that’s super bad. Just stop, have a cuppa, read a book, watch a film, listen to some music, etc. and come back to it.

In order of importance, which has had the biggest influence on your success: creative ability, live performance, social media, radio play, passion and drive?
Nothing can beat passion and drive – there are extraordinary examples of that every day in the news and stuff. I’d say with 100% certainty that I’d do this forever, even if I knew that it wouldn’t be my career and I think that has had a massive influence on my career so far.

Social media has definitely helped me capitalise on that but I think that I had to have it in the first place for it to be as effective!
Live performances, radio play and creative ability have helped a lot too (of course) but the passion and drive is the main thing I think!

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What has been your biggest challenge yet and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge for me was the thought of anybody listening to my music to be honest. At the start, I was terrified of what others thought and I almost stopped because of it. All I did to overcome it was to bite the bullet and do it. I knew that I wanted to do this and if people didn’t like the stuff I could’ve just deleted them!

A lot of young artists are independently releasing their material and promoting it on social media platforms. Having sailed those waters yourself, do you have any advice for them?
It’s terrible but don’t expect anything to happen immediately. If it does, amazing and congratulations but chances are that it won’t. It could take 10 years but good music will always rise to the top!

So, you have 5 EP’s and 1 album tucked in the bag, and you probably have a whole lot of festivals to attend this summer. What happens next?
Write the next record; tour, tour, tour; record the next record. Rinse and repeat! (Hopefully)

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Follow Lewis Watson on:
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Buy ‘The Morning’ from his website.


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Sweet, Sexy, Sensational JLo

By | Music

Jennifer Lopez first began her rise to the heights of the Hollywood hills in 1986, at the tender age of 16. Born to Puerto Rican parents in the Bronx on July 24, 1969, and with a taste for the limelight, “Jenny from the block”, worked her famous butt off to become a successful actress, dancer, singer, producer, fashion designer and author.

Although her first film role in ‘My Little Girl’ (1987) didn’t quite make the cut to kick-starting her career, her taste of fame propelled her to work harder and to dream bigger. Lopez won her first dance role in Janet Jackson’s music video ‘That’s The Way Love Goes’ in 1993, followed by a series of screen and film roles including ‘Nurse On The Line: The Crash of Flight 7’ (1993), ‘My Family’ (1995), ‘Money Train’ (1995), Francis Ford Coppola’s comedy drama ‘Jack’ (1996), starring Robin Williams, and ‘Selena’ (1997), for which she was nominated Best Actress at the Golden Globes, and was consequently moved up the show biz ladder.

Yet the 90’s were only the beginning for JLo.

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Thanks to her sky-high profile following the success of her role in Steven Soderbergh’s 1998 film ‘Out of Sight’, starring George Clooney, JLo was offered a modeling contract with L’Oreal as well as a recording contract with Sony records. She then released her debut album ‘On The 6’ (1999), instantly reaching the top 10 on the US charts, earning her a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording and two nominations at the Latin Grammy Awards.

The gorgeous Latin Icon has since released 7 studio albums, almost all of which were as successful as one another, certified Gold and Platinum. She has also starred in numerous blockbusters, including ‘Maid in Manhattan’ (2002) with Ralph Fiennes, ‘Shall We Dance’ (2004) with Richard Gere, ‘Monster-In-Law’ (2005) with Jane Fonda, and ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’ (2012) with Cameron Diaz.

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JLo has had more than a few successes in her extensive career:

• She became the first Latina actress to earn more than $1 million for a film role (‘Out of Sight’).
• She became the first person to have a Nº1 album (‘J.Lo’) and film (‘The Wedding Planner’) in the same week.
• ‘J to tha L-O! The Remixes’, released in 2002, became the first in history to debut at Nº1 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
• Her fifth studio album ‘Como Una Mujer’ (2007), produced by her then husband and father of her twins, Marc Anthony, received the highest first-week sales for a Spanish album in the U.S.
• JLo has sold over 75 million records worldwide and has an accumulative film gross of over $2 billion.
• She is the highest paid Latin star, with a net worth of $250 million, and is deemed the most influential Hispanic celeb in the U.S.
• She received the Legacy Award at the 2010 World Music Awards for her contributions to music.
• She has won 6 ALMA Awards, 3 American Music Awards, 3 Billboard Music Video Awards, 4 Billboard Music Awards, 8 Billboard Latin Music Awards, 3 Brit Awards, 2 MTV Music Video Awards… the list goes on.

So, happy 45th Birthday, JLo, and congratulations on your many successes – you are sensational! Oh… and by the way, you look fantastic!

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See a mashup of JLo’s funniest moments >>

See a 10-track playlist of JLo’s top Billboard Hot 100 hit charts based on actual performance in release-date order >>


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