Judging by the amount of you on Facebook posting YouTube clips and exasperated statuses, I'd say it was exam time. We all know at this crucial time of our lives, we need a cracking set of tunes to get us through the dark days spent in a depressing library to drown out the anguished weeps of our fellow students as they try and get through a years worth of notes in a few weeks. Or days, in my case. Think of me as your musical guardian angel, winging you the newest music across the vast space of the interweb. No need to thank me, just credit me in your graduation speech.
Lately, I've been really getting into progressive house. The best thing about this genre is that the songs are long, with slow, gratifying crescendoes, which you can stick on, work, and not change for at least a few pages of notes. In light of this, my top tune this week is a remix by Robin Schultz of MÖWE's track, Blauer Tag, which, if my stunted German is correct, translates as 'Blue Day'. Although we haven't physically had many of these lately, this song streams into your eardrums like a little ray of sunshine with it's feel-good beat and happy saxophone riff. Guaranteed to put a smile on your face and a skip in your step whether you're walking to an exam, or celebrating your last. Next up is a slightly more introspective Prog House track, Tusindfryd by Morten Granau. With its hypnotic bassline and Moroccan-like chanting, it will hopefully get y'all concentrating on the task in hand - ie. (whisper it) your exam. If you enjoyed (who didn't) Disclosure's huge track, White Noise (featured on LBeLB before it was cool...just sayin'), then check out MNEK's take on it, which replaces AlunaGeorge's vocals with a male soul-singer's. It might divide some opinions, but it's an interesting interpretation nonetheless. Imogen Heap - probably most famous for her work on the OC Soundtrack c.2005 - is back, with Headlock, reworked by Him_Self_Her into a mesmerizing House track, perfect for sticking on and getting in the zone. If you want some motivation to get your head down and get out of that exam, play Bronx Night Dub's remix of Viceroy & French Horn Rebellion's Friday Night, a super little Electonic track guaranteed to get you psyched. Bring on the afterparty. Next up is some guilty-pleasure pop served up by Empire of the Sun and OneRepublic, respectively. Walking on a Dream is a hard act to follow, but I think they've got pretty close with Alive - stick it on and get in touch with your inner teenybopper. OneRepublic has been one of my favourite chart-regulars ever since they teamed up with Timbaland on Apologize (remember that corker?). They've recently released If I Lose Myself. Embrace the cheese. Embrace. It. If you want to feel a little less guilty about listening to them, have a play of Culture Code's Dubstep remix of the same song, which injects the track with a touch more respectability. Although the same remix is probably going to be on your 16-year old sister's iPod. If you can live with that, then so can I. From Dubstep to Trap, Team Bayside High have released a remix of Wild Belle's (wahey, namesake) Keep You, which basically rapes the original with some obese wobbles and masochistic breaks. Get your bassface on. Although I'm not a huge fan of Moombahton, I couldn't help but include Koshen's track, Gal A Bubble, in which he doubles up with Major Lazer (pron. May-Jah Lay-Zah), Bro Safari and ETC!ETC! (actual band name, not just me being too lazy to name the rest). As Flo Rida would say, "Get Low". For something that sounds less like an assault on your eardrums, stick on Nova Scotia by Magic Man, an ethereal synth-pop track that will have you dreaming of long summer nights and ice-cold beers. Tom Odell's got to be one of my favourite solo artists at the moment, and this week, his song, Another Love gets treated by Felix Jahen, getting turned into a snappy Prog House track. Felix has worked really well with the original rhythm of the song, making the transformation pretty seamless. Nice work. For some happy Chillwave, have a listen to Rudi Zygadlo's remix of Electric Guest's This Head I Hold (the original featured a few weeks back). Like a piece of Cubist art (who's been revising...) Rudi breaks up the original, twists it around, and puts it back together in a totally fresh way. If you like that, check out Giraffage's new track, Music Sounds Better With You, in which he gives Stardust's classic tune a similar reboot. Indie lovers, I haven't forgotten you. Get your fix with Jim Guthrie's The Rest Is Yet To Come, and Freddie Dickson's The End. They're both showcases of the new Indie sound, which I think is pretty 'Creme Fraiche'. Enjoy - and GOOD LUCK TO YOU ALL!
Annoyingly, there's no Widget for Freddie Dickson's song. Click HERE to get redirected to the Soundcloud page.
You know it's exam period when the number of people listed on Facebook chat passes the 100+ mark. It seems that the one time of year we are supposed to have our heads deeply immersed in a stack of books, we turn to stalking our exes, posting hilarious YouTube links, and sharing as many competition pictures as humanly possible. Funny that. One positive thing to come out of this (apart from an invaluable YouTube history) is the fact that none of us are spending our cash on going out. This means, once exams are over and you've recovered from your post-exam celebration hangovers, there should be just enough money to splash out on a whole new wardrobe for Summer. This is where I come in. Perhaps it's the artworks I've been revising for my last ever exam, perhaps its the promise of good weather, Corona, and barbecues, but I'm devoting an entire Wish List to the delectable prints that are gracing the catwalks and the high street alike - allowing you to transform yourself into a living artwork. Mix and match, clash and couple, there's no rules to this trend. In the mean time, keep your chin up, your head down, and GOOD LUCK!
1. Daisy Print Shell Top, Topshop, £30. Fresh as a daisy, here.
2. Animal Ladder Back Dress, Topshop, £36. Animal magnetism, here.
3. African Floral-Print Silk Shirt by Stella McCartney, Net-a-Porter, £525. Prints charming, here.
4. Stripe Leaf Printed Shorts, Topshop, £30. The White Stripes, here.
5. Embroidered Ethnic Clutch, Zara, £30. Clutch-ing at straws, here.
6. Floral-Print Organza Princess Skirt by Christopher Kane, Matches, £745. Be a Print-cess, here.
7. 'Danielle' Chain Necklace, Kurt Geiger, £70. Chain gang, here.
8. Bangle Stack, Anna Lou of London, £35 each. London Calling, here.
9. Flora Rose, Iris & Blossom Scented Candle by Fornasetti, Net-a-Porter, £99. Scents and Sensibility, here.
10. Leopard-Print Acetate Sunglasses by Stella McCartney, Net-a-Porter, £125. How the leopard got its spots, here.
11. 'Leo' Lace Up, Kurt Geiger, £65. Leo the Lion, here.
12. 'Henrietta' Printed Pump, French Sole, £130. Sole Food, here.
Hi. My name is Belle, and I'm a self-sadist.
For those of you that didn't get the memo, self-sadocism is a term I just invented. No, I haven't yet approached the OED about it, but I'm predicting it's only a matter of time until it gets in there. I like making myself sad. Not 'sad' in the Alan Partridge meaning of the word (i.e. a loser - although, there are some that would argue that), I mean 'sad' in the literal sense. To put it in context, I've just got out of a bubble bath, complete with scented candle, in which I drank a glass of wine and read some fucking depressing poetry. Cliché much? Yes. But I feel great about it. Let me elaborate.
I believe the greatest art in the world - be that poetry, music, or actual painting, sculpture, etc - has been made by those who are feeling sad or depressed. It turns out that's not just my opinion. I read an article last year about how creativity is closely intertwined with an individual's depression, whether that be manic or clinical, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or even substance abuse (1-0 to drug addicts.). Case studies in this article included Lewis Carroll, the author of Alice in Wonderland, renowned for his heavy use of opiates (well, I mean, how else would you come up with a narcotic caterpillar who speaks in rhyme). Virginia Wolf was as famous for her depression as she was for her novels. And it's not just novelists: Winston Churchill, Vincent Van Gogh, and Einstein are other notable individuals who suffered from different kinds of depression throughout their lives. So why, exactly, does sadness and depression inspire such an outpouring of creativity - and why do we value the results?
This post is going in the Relationships/Rants section of my blog. If you read any of those, it might be fairly clear that they are generally written at times when I've been ruminating over an event that's made me angry, hurt, sad, or depressed (yes, there is a difference between the last two). Wish List Mondays and Tune Tape Tuesdays are all very nice and I enjoy doing them, but in my opinion, my best writing is done when I actually feel something. And that something is usually sadness, in its many shapes and forms. I only really started writing last summer. I had split up from a guy I believed was the love of my life, and, to be honest, I was a complete mess; a breakup cliché. I didn't leave the house for days. I couldn't sleep, but when I did, I slept for 14 hours straight. I 'Hemingway-ed' it to the max: sitting in darkened rooms, drinking far more than my "recommended daily allowance", and chainsmoking my way through the best part of 20 a day. Thankfully, I had the clearheadedness to realise that this couldn't become my actual lifestyle forever, or, if it did, I should at least have something to show for it. So I opened up a Word Document, and I started writing. I wrote everything that I was thinking; everything that I couldn't bring myself to say to him, all of the memories I had of our relationship, and all of my dashed hopes of a future together. 20,000 words and a Summer later, I was better, and looking back on it now is strangely life-affirming:
4th July, 2012
When we broke up, I used to say that my soul felt like it had been pushed down a flight of stairs. It was the only way I could think of to describe the pain I felt inside. Although its bruises have healed, the scars remain, and it still limps a little. Do you remember when I asked you that time in Brixton if you had been unhappy? You shook your head and said “no, it just wasn’t perfect.”
I'm not saying my Summer ramblings were the stuff of artistic genius. But what I am saying is that I know that my personal best is made when I can't contain what I'm feeling. I guess that when REAL geniuses 'forge their metals', we can instinctively click into their troubled psyches. Which, in my books, is as pretty close to real magic as you can get without waving a wand and going to Hogwarts. Some people believe that embracing the outpourings of depressive individuals 'romanticises' the disorder. I don't personally see the bad in that. As a society, I think we're too quick to ostracise those who struggle to control, maintain, and manage their emotions; those whose membranes are so fragile that the world osmoses through them far quicker than others. Coming from an all-girls boarding school, admitting that you had clinical depression was basically announcing you were bat-shit crazy and were going to go rock back and forth in your room and stab a voodoo doll. For those with a penchant for statistics, one in four of us will experience depression at some points in our lives, and in my opinion, it's a fucking shame that a very high proportion of those that do are too scared to seek help because of what other people think. Personally, I think 'romanticising' depression is the least of your worries; I mean, at least it's getting some recognition. I can also vouch for creative outpourings - whatever medium they come out in - being far better for you than taking some meds and shutting up shop.
Just like people suggest men 'get in touch with their feminine side' once in a while, I think that we all need to get in touch with our inner-depressive. Which is why I like making myself feel sad once in a blue moon (colour-appropriate). Give me Leonard Cohen, a large glass of wine, and some poetry by Pablo Neruda, and you'll make me a very happy sad person.
Who else is a self-sadist?