Wednesday

Tune Tape Tuesdays #41

So remember that shaggy-haired Scottish lad, Paolo Nutini, who had hits a few years back with Last Request and Candy? Well he's back, and has somehow transformed from gawky teen to bone fide stud muffin. Check out his newest single, Iron Sky, recorded live at Abbey Road Studios.



This week, in an attempt at an apology for my absence over the last month, I have put together the biggest Tune Tape in LBeLB history. Coming in at a massive 38 tracks and lasting nearly 3 hours, it's a comprehensive list of all things great and good happening in the world of music at the moment. Enjoy.

Top Picks
1. Midnight - Coldplay. It ain't no lie that I love Coldplay. Recently they released their track for The Hunger Games - Catching Fire Soundtrack, but in my opinion, Midnight is the far more powerful tune. Going down a more electronica-sounding route, it's a slow burner (unlike their earlier, more commercial material) but I guarantee it'll haunt you with its beautiful, restrained and subtle composition. 

2. Go Crazy (Jeezy Cover) - Paul Conrad. Born out of the Radio 1 Live Lounge (or for my Aussie viewers, Triple J's Like a Version), there seems to be a growing trend in the Indie scene of late: taking lewdly explicit HipHop tracks (usually about bitches and hoes) and magicking them in to pieces that can actually move you - like, emotionally 'n shit. First it was Florence + The Machine who did a cover of Drake & Rihanna's Take Care (which was actually a cover of Gil Scott-Heron's I'll Take Care of You, just showing off...). Then Chet Faker came out with his version of No Diggity (originally by Blackstreet). This week, I've absolutely fallen for Paul Conrad's cover of Jeezy's Go Crazy. His vocals are absolute magic, a complete contrast to the original, yet he manages to keep the gritty sexiness of Jeezy's track - with none of the smut. Play on, player.

3. Slow Down - EMBRZ. I've been listening to this song for nearly a month now. A month that has been, shall we say, a little up and down in terms of emotion and sentiment. Yet this song seems to work in every situation. On the bus to work, late at night when you're awake and feeling sorry for yourself, making dinner, entertaining friends… You name it. Try it, you won't be disappointed - it really is a cure-all.




Love,
Belle x

Thursday

Wish List Mondays #44

In every women's magazine in the world, there exists a page in which a celebrity - usually the current face for a cosmetics company - dissects her makeup bag for us mere mortals to copy. Coincidently, most of the items in there are made by the cosmetics company they model for. Funny that. I don't know why, but I've always wanted to feature in one of those pages. So I thought I'd make my own dream come true and unpack my makeup bag for all to see. Who knows, perhaps they'll kick Cara Delevingne off the YSL campaign and hire me instead. Stranger things have happened. 

1. Touche Éclat in No 2 by Yves Saint Laurent, Selfridges, £25. Available here.
2. Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm by Elizabeth Arden, Net-a-Porter, £20. Available here.
3. DiorBlush Cheek Creme by Christian Dior, FeelUnique.com, £24. Available here.
4. Baby Doll Mascara by Yves Saint Laurent, Selfridges, £25. Available here.
5. Bright Red Shiny Goat Makeup Case, Mulberry, £210. Available here.
6. Super Tan Instant Self Tan, ModelCo, £28. Available here.
7. Frame & Define Brow Styler by bareMinerals, ASOS, £13. Available here.
8. Soft Kohl Kajal Eye Pencil by Rimmel London, ASOS, £3. Available here.
9. Alexa Chung for Eyeko Limited Edition 'Eye Do' Set, ASOS, £35. Available here.
10. Tinted Moisturiser in Bisque by Laura Mercier, Net-a-Porter, £33. Available here.
11. Terracotta Moisturising Bronzing Powder in 00 by Guerlain, Selfridges, £35. Available here.
12. Old Hollywood Eye Palette by Bobbi Brown, Selfridges, £59. Available here.
13. Michael Kors Women 30ml Eau de Toilette by Michael Kors, Debenhams, £38. Available here.
14. Diorific Lipstick in Dolce Vita by Christian Dior, Selfridges, £26. Available here.


Love,

Belle x

The Blame Game

If you’re at all clued in to what’s happening in the music scene at the moment, you’ll know that Kanye West recently released a new single, Blame Game - notable not only for Chris Rock’s 2 minute skit at the end of the track, and John Legend’s smooth vocal hook, but how it highlights the ‘compensation culture’ of the 21st century. Now, I’m not saying this profound reading was intended by Mr West when he set out to record it, but it has definitely got me thinking.

Blame is not a new concept, nor a modern defense mechanism developed as a reaction to intrusive, investigative journalism.  We all do it, and as humans have done it, for millennia. As children, we blamed others when our parents told us off; X made me do it, Y got away with it. As teenagers, we blamed those same parents with the rationale that they “didn’t understand us”. Even in relationships, although the mantra of “it’s not you, it’s me” has become a nauseating cliché, hardly anyone actually means it. How often do we openly admit that it was our fault when something goes wrong? Let’s be honest: very rarely.

I have no qualms about acknowledging that I am my harshest critic. I have been cursed with the incredible ability to erode any self-worth or pride by focusing on the minute negatives going on in my life, rather than the bigger picture. Everything going well in your relationship? Let’s concentrate on how much weight you’ve put on. Just got a promotion? I think the much more important issue is why you’re single. I’m not saying that self-scrutiny is a bad thing. It can motivate you to improve situations, to fix things that are broken, and create goals to aim towards. What I will say is that it is exhausting. 

Recently, circumstances have prompted me to take a long, hard look at myself, at patterns of behaviour that stem back to childhood. If what psychologists say is true, that the first step to changing is realization and acceptance, then what I’ve discovered is potentially a game-changer. I have a self-destruct button, and I like to push it. Whether this is a reaction that stems from being a bit of a Drama Queen (who, moi?); injecting situations with added excitement and twists for entertainment, or if it’s simply a case of dropping the ball when the exhaustion of self-criticism gets too much, is still something I’m trying to figure out. But what I do know is that it’s not a recent development. That button’s existed for a long time, and hasn’t lost any of its appeal. As a child, 90% of the time I was well-behaved. I was conditioned by my parents to be polite, agreeable, and inquisitive - and for the most part, I was. Except those characteristics aren’t usually the ones that stick in people’s minds. It was that 10% Hyde to my Jekyll - the disobedience, the pleasure gained in flouting the rules, that got me into trouble, and to a large extent shaped what people (especially horrified parents) thought of me. At school it was no different. While for two years I was academic excellence personified, this got rather boring, and made me miserable. Luckily, then, that the big, red, self-destruct button was on hand to press - God forbid I ever achieve my grades with ease and admiration. Within a summer - turning 13 may or may not have had something to do with it, but let’s not start blaming hormones - I morphed into someone that purposefully set out to break any rule or accepted code of conduct out there. I started answering back to teachers, smoking on school grounds, drinking underage, and amassing a pretty impressive collection of detention slips. None of which I’m particularly proud of now. Did it make me any happier? No. The constant contradiction of who I knew I really was compared to how I was behaving drained me, and I finished school with no real friends or sense of direction. 

Perhaps part of the problem is that I have an addictive personality. (In the sense that I become addicted very easily to things, not that I’m personally so scintillating that people become addicted to me.) But isn’t that just a blaming tool as well? Can you really explain your behaviour by sweeping it under a rug of a supposed chemical imbalance? I don’t believe so. Maybe the more accurate term is that I am ‘habitually addictive’ as a person; that through years of getting kicks out of doing something I’m not supposed to I have developed a habit. Understandably, this has been quite a hindrance in any situation that requires you to follow the rules. 

A wake-up call came in the shape of a drunken friend on a night out, some years ago. Putting her arm around me and looking blearily into my eyes, she slurred: “you live your life like a warning to others”. It may have been said in inebriated jest, but it struck a chord. This soap opera that I’d turned my life into, through strings of failed relationships and let-downs, was just that - public entertainment. I realised that I could spin a situation in my favour, blame others for my failure, but at the end of the day, who is the common denominator? But self-hatred and blame is more destructive than passing it off on third parties. I recognize it needs to be a healthy balance. There’s unlikely to ever be someone following you around, foiling all your plans and good intentions. Most failure is down to you - your choices, your actions, your mindset. I’m in the process of developing that habit of addiction to rule-breaking into a habit of addiction to courage. To admit when I fail it’s down to me, but to also initiate righting myself. If I don’t, all I’m doing is destroying, rather than creating. It might be “two steps forward, one step back”, but at least it’s heading in a positive direction.

Do you play the Blame Game?

Love,

Belle x





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