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Review: Speak Now, by Taylor Swift

By Amy CT · November 25, 2010 · 2 Comments · 375 Views

Image: HERE

You can say what you like about Taylor Swift, but you can't deny that she is an exquisite lyricist. However bizarre you might find her way of writing lyrics - honest confessions about her life and the lives of those around her, with the antagonists often clearly identifiable - you have to concede that it works. Her most recent album, Speak Now, released earlier this month, has to be her best work yet.

Taylor Swift, in this album, has most definitely grown up. All of these songs were written by her and her alone, and I think that you can hear it, reflected in the vocal and in the fact that she's taken a step away from her usual "country-centric" style. It is also evident in the fact that a few of the songs seem almost like follow-ups to previous songs. In the 'hidden message' in Last Kiss for example, a reference to Forever and Always, Swift's song about Joe Jonas, is clear; and in If This Was A Move, references made to doors slamming, fights and rain are clearly reminiscent of The Other Side of The Door.

Although these songs could be seen as a challenge put in place for fans, they work equally well as stand-alone pieces.

Image: HERE

There is undoubtedly a song on this album which everyone will be able to relate to. There are three which touch me especially, and so I'm going to focus my attentions in this review on them.

The first of these is Never Grow Up, which is presumably written about the fact that Swift has recently moved from her family home to an apartment of her own. Quiet, melodic and gentle, the song shifts between the prespective of a mother and that of Swift herself. From the very first time I listened to this song, I teared up. Having recently moved away to university, and being in the process of planning to move to anotehr continent for a year from July, the lyrics really get to me. "

Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room / Memorize what is sounded like what your dad gets home / Remember the footsteps, remember the words said / And all your little brother's favorite songs / I just realized everything I had is someday gonna be gone"

I've talked about this with friends recently, and we all agree: before we moved here, we'd probably not have felt the weight of this song, but now, in a "big city, they just dropped me off", we do. We understand her pain, and I think that it is clearly audible in the vocalisation, which shows a great deal more vulnerablility than any Swift song I've heard before.

Image: HERE

Enchanted, too, rings especially true - although I think that this is a song that everyone can relate too. The melody is floating; the character is floating. Catchy without being irritating, this is more like the Swift songs I recognise from previous albums: it is the narrative which catches me. Describing an initially mundane night in which she is "forcing laughter, faking smiles", the song goes on to describe the moment she catches the eye of someone "enchanting", and the dynamic of the night changes... and experience which, surely, everyone has felt at some point. The way she tells it, though, is more like a story than a song. There are few gaps left to fill in: you feel as though you are in her shoes. It is your night.

The third song I am focussing on is another one to add to the canon of "Amy and Sarah songs"; Long Live was written for Swift's band, and describes a wonderful friendship, and the feeling that you are on top of the world. A genuine feel-good song, the slow start lulls you in to the story, and the beautifully crafted metaphors create a whole other story, if you care to look into them. The lyrics are currently spelled out in fridge magnets on my bathroom door; they always makde me smile.

Sarah, I truly "had the time of my life fighting dragons with you".

Image: HERE

My over-all verdict is overtly positive. As a "quote collector", this album is my dream come true; as a fan of both Indie and Country music, it encompasses all my favourite styles. As a writer, the lyrics stun me; and as a Taylor Swift fan, it makes me proud.

It also only fuels my excitement for her UK tour dates in March - and for the fact that I'm going with two of my very best friends. Long live!

LoveLoveLove

- A -

 

Don't Wanna Be An American Idiot

By Amy CT · September 9, 2010 · 7 Comments · 39 Views

Green Day's 'American Idiot'.

It is now a musical.

That is worth a post on it's own.

LoveLoveLove

- A -

Filed in: Music
Tagged with: trailer, Green Day, American Idiot

Feel-Good Friday - Mine

By Amy CT · September 3, 2010 · 3 Comments · 29 Views

Fully a cop-out post, but I have the sneezes and intend to spend all day curled up on the sofa watching Shut Up And Sing (followed by Charlie Wilson's War, in the hope I might understand it now I have a vague knowledge of the Soviet occupation of  Afghanistan...), so I thought I'd share the Taylor love... because this video, however badly dubbed (or is that just my laptop being daft?), is exceptionally cute :)

I was a flight-risk with a fear of falling wondering why we bother with love if it never lasts?

What's making you feel good this Friday?

LoveLoveLove

- A -

Filed in: Music, Feel-Good Fridays
Tagged with: taylor swift, mine

Inspire Me - "Kick Arse Women"

By Amy CT · September 1, 2010 · 6 Comments · 57 Views

Over at Mon Polkadot Cheri, my friend Rachel is running a season about Kick Arse Women, to remind us all that we can be whoever we want to be, and that we can do whatever we want to do, and so I've decided to throw my two penneth in to the ring, and to tell everyone about the most kick-arse woman I can think of - someone I'm certain I've blogged about before, but never mind!

So, for those who don't know, my absolute hero in life is the Dixie Chicks' front woman, Natalie Maines.

Image: HERE

There are a lot of women that I look up to for various reasons, but I admire Natalie Maines above them all for her fearlessness and for sticking to her convictions no matter what.

As a singer-songwriter, Natalie fits in perfectly with most of the modern Americana, Southern Rock and Country singers that I can think of, and, although to me her music is a thousand times better than most, I guess that to a lot of people, it's comparatively nothing special. Until 2003, however, this was what she was famous for: on the eve of the 2003 Top of the World tour, for example, the Dixie Chicks sang the American National Anthem at the Superbowl. Essentially, this meant that they were America's sweethearts.

At the same time as this, though, George Bush was planning the invasion of Iraq, and this was something Natalie cared passionately about - so much so that on the night of the invasion, coincidentally the night of the first show of the tour, she told the British audience at their Shepherds Bush concert "Just so you know, we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas", the band's home state.

 

Although she has since claimed that these words were said as a joke, and to please the crowd, the documentary Shut Up And Sing clearly shows her to have had an interest all along, and the fact that she stuck by her words no matter what is the reason I so admire her.

Although the entire American Right, and many in the Centre, moved against her, burning CDs, boycotting records, and once even making a death threat, she stuck by her words, and was eventually proven to be right: there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and the American deaths there were, as she insinuated, for nothing.

In my eyes, that's the most admirable thing of all - speaking out for what you believe in, despite the consequences, and not letting anything get you down.

Image: HERE

Another thing I admire about her is her ability to celebrate success. The feet shown above are one per member of the band, and you might notice that they each have the same tattoo; one bird's foot tattooed on per major career milestone, constantly reminding them of how far they've come. It's said that they stopped a while back lest they ended up with bird's feet to their knees!

I know that she is an unusual heroine, and a woman most people would not immediately think of as "kick arse", but to me, there's no one more worthy of my admiration.

"I've made my bed and I'll sleep like a baby, with no regrets and I don't mind saying
It's a sad, sad story when a mother will teach her daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I've said send somebody so over the edge
That they'd write me a letter saying that I'd better shut up and sing or my life will be over...?"

- Not Ready To Make Nice, Dixie Chicks

So, who's your unusual heroine? Please, share - the more kick arse women we can celebrate, the better!

LoveLoveLove

- A -

PS - I have an article about the documentary in the trailer above, HERE

Court Yard Hounds

By Amy CT · June 7, 2010 · 2 Comments · 85 Views

Image: HERE

Any of my friends will tell you that I undoubtedly have the worst taste in music in history. I was brought up on my father's eclectic tastes which range from Billy Joel and his 80s/90s pop to Bruce Springsteen; from Alison Krauss and bluegrass to Oasis. My "Music" info on facebook is listed as "Frankly terrible. Natalie Maines is a Godess. ♥" - which, as I'm sure Sarah could tell you, means that I am pretty Dixie Chicks' biggest UK fan.

Recently, however, Natalie has expressed a desire to stop recording with the Chicks for a time, and the two other band members, sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison (pictured) have begun recording as Court Yard Hounds - and since I heard about this, I've been wondering how long I can put off buying their album myself, in the hope that Dad would instead.

On Saturday, though, he caved in, and bought it. And I am so glad that he did.

Although most in the UK will have been averse to the Chicks because of the blatant "country" vibe running through their music, and because of the harshness and coarseness in Maines' (beautiful) voice, the musicality and brilliance of their lyrics could never be denied - but, with the Court Yard Hounds, the story is completely different.

When I put their CD onto my iTunes last night, it registered as a "country" album, but as a girl who has a fair selection of country to her name, I'd argue that it's anything but. It's a lot more peaceful, and, honestly, more mainstream. Maguire and Robison sang backing vocals and harmonies with the Chicks, as well as playing much of the actual music, and this is instantly evident in the Hounds' fist album - without the harsh vocals, the harmonising, softer tones of the new album is peaceful and beautiful. It's a lullaby; it's gentle; it's delicate - but it's not country. It's bluegrass, probably, or Americana, or... or just plain lovely.

It's a largely autobiographical album, like the last offering from the Chicks', and, written mostly by Robison, tells the story of her divorce and the relief it left in its aftermath. The lyrics cannot possibly match to those of the Chicks, but, then, they were written by professional songwriters, not by singers (save for their last album), and according to my brother (who knows these things), the music isn't as good, either.

But, to the untrained ear (ie to anyone with less than an A* in GCSE music a year early, or Grade Eight clarinet), it's still wonderful. It's peaceful and it's graceful, and, as it doesn't look like I'm getting my favourite band back any time soon, I suppose it will have to do, for now.

Image: HERE

We're still waiting for you to come back, Natalie, but for now, we'll take the sisters, and we'll listen to them and love them as we'd have loved an album with you.

LoveLoveLove

- A -

Inspire Me: Struggles

By Amy CT · April 22, 2010 · 3 Comments · 38 Views

Sometimes I don't have the energy to prove everybody wrong
But I do my best to keep strong,

But you know it's so hard, it's so hard

It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard when it doesn't come fast
It's so hard when it doesn't come easy
It's so hard...

And sometimes I just want to wait it out to prove everybody wrong,
And I need your help to move on 'cause you know it's so hard...

'So Hard', Dixie Chicks - taken completely out of context, here, and dedicated to Rachel and Nicky, two truly incredible women whom I admire more than they'll ever know.

Filed in: Music, Inspire Me
Tagged with: Dixie Chicks, So Hard

Feel-Good Fridays - Shiny, Happy People :)

By Amy CT · January 29, 2010 · 1 Comment · 40 Views

The wonderful Rachel of Polkadot Stripes tagged me as someone who makes her smile, which means that I now have to do a post about making people smile, which, in turn, makes me smile... *Does big, crazily cheesy grin*

I have to post a song and a picture which make me smile, and then tage five other bloggers, and ask them to do the same. I think, by now, y'all can probably guess who I'm going to post, but whatever...

So, a song... I've deliberately picked one which I've never posted about before (because otherwise, let's face it, you'd have gotten Taylor Swift's 'Jump Then Fall', or Megan and Liz's cover of 'Fireflies', or Brad Paisley doing 'American Saturday Night', or 'Crazy Dreams' by Carrie Underwood, which I've posted before many a time.

Instead, I've gone for Paramore singing 'Brighter' - which I think is really uplifting. I love the lyrics so much; "And if you have to go, always know that you shine brighter than anyone does..."

And a picture which always makes me smile is this one;

 

It's me (left) and my best friend Sarah on Red Nose Day last year; we had to dress up in school uniform (because VI formers don't wear it), and even though I look shockingly attrocious in that photo, it was SUCH a good day that I'll always treasure it :)

So, five people to make me smile...

Well, obviosuly Sarah (above), and Rachel (of 'Cause I'd Rather Waste My Life Pretending - because the other Rachel already did this!), and Claire Napier, and two new people; Megan Monique and Joshy Lofty, who are wonderful twitter-buddies of mine, and who never cease to make me grin!

So, who makes you smile?

LoveLoveLove

- A -

Spotlight on: Alice

By Amy CT · January 20, 2010 · 0 Comments · 37 Views

Image: Alice

Some of you may remember that, a while back, I interviewed Alice about her online shop - well, now I'm writing about her again... because she needs your support. She just got through to the Regional Finals of The UK's Live and Unsigned competition - and we all really, really want her to win :)

So, what does she have to say for herself?

Alice first picked up a guitar in April 2009, simply because it was red and she wanted it. She began writing songs and played her first gig in September 2009. Since then she's been having a hoot of a time, being featured on York BBC Introducing in November, AND getting through to the regional finals of 'Live and Unsigned'! She needs your support now more than ever. Thank you.

Inspired by: Everything and Everyone. Particularly people I want to rant about.

(Seriously, don't we all...)

In case anyone reading happens to live in the North Yorkshire area, the dates of her next gigs are -

24th Feb - Basement Bar
16th March - Stereo
21st March - 'Live and Unsigned' regional finals

And if you click HERE, you can see Alice's MySpace page - to hear her songs and such :)

Please please please get out there and support her :)

Thank you!

LoveLoveLove

- A -

Ten Minutes With... Megan and Liz!

By Amy CT · January 16, 2010 · 2 Comments · 553 Views

I'm so excited to announce that my interview with YouTube sensations Megan and Liz Mace (www.youtube.com/meganandliz) is finally here for you to read!

 

Over the past couple of years, Megan and Liz, twins from Michigan, US, have risen to fame on YouTube, and currently have over 125 000 subscribers! Just before Christmas, they released their first EP, and signed with BMI, so what does life currently look like for these two?

- Tell us a little bit about yourselves!

M: I’m 17 and a junior in High School. I’ve been playing guitar for four years. I love to hang out with friends in my spare time. Writing songs is how I vent.

L: I’m also 17 (!) and a junior in High School. I also love to hang out with friends. I like to read novels and write lyrics!

 

- How long have you two been singing together?

We’ve been singing together for as long as we can remember!

 

- Can you imagine a future for yourselves in anything other than music?

M: It’s hard to imagine not being in the music industry in some way!

L: If we had to do something other than music it would definitely still be in the entertainment industry.

 

- Which artists do you enjoy covering most?

We like to try different things. “Fireflies” and “Halo” were two songs that we felt were very different from what we usually do and we put our own spin on them.

 

- What was it like to meet Taylor Swift?! (You have no idea how jealous I am…)(Well, actually, no – you probably do!)

M: Obviously meeting Taylor Swift was a dream come true! It was almost surreal.

L: She was just as sweet as you would expect here to be. Meeting her gave us even more respect for her!

 

- Your family are obviously amazingly supportive of you two in what you do – have they always known about it, and how did they react when they found out?

M: We grew up with my mom singing around the house and in the car all the time so it was normal for us to join in.

L: We have home videos of us singing when we were very little so I guess you could say our family has always known about it!

 

- Congratulations on the release of your EP! I know that some fans have been waiting a while for ‘Fairytale Man’ – what’s the story behind that one, then?

We wrote Fairytale Man when we were ten years old - without the guitar. One day we decided to put guitar to it and we thought it was pretty catchy so we decided to keep it!

 

- Which is your favourite of all your videos?

M: Halo

L: Fireflies

 

- MisAmyLu asks “Have your school lives changed at all since you were on Oprah?”

M: A little bit. Our teachers make little jokes about it and a few kids joke about it.

L: Overall it’s really not that different at school.

 

- SarahPrelwitz asks “What do your parents think that all of this is about?”

They are very proud of us and very supportive.

 

- Katiedotrz125 asks “Who are your favourite YouTube singers?”

We like Savannah Outen, Esmee Denters, Hayley Staynor. There is great talent out there!

 

- Abi :) asks “What do your friends or boyfriends think of your fame?”

Our friends treat us just the same. We don’t feel “famous.”

 

- Chloe asks “So, what’s it like knowing your waking up in the morning to over 100,000 people cheering you on. Does it make you feel on top of the world?”

YES! We have to pinch ourselves sometimes! Whenever we feel down we just go on our YouTube Channel and it makes our day! We’d like to send a HUGE thank you to our fans! You’re the BEST!

 

- syafiqaheddie asks “What do you think of Farah and Ashley who’ve created websites for you?”

Farah and Ashley have become good friends of ours. We love everything they’ve done for us. They are truly amazing people!!!!

 

- m&lfan asks “Megan, who do you think Liz looks like, any celebrities? Liz, who does Megan look like?”

M: I think Liz’s hair looks like Taylor Swift’s now when she wears it curly!

L: Megan sometimes looks like Demi Lovato or Camilla Belle. Or maybe Selena Gomez?

 

- NYSTEX asks “What are your plans after Highschool? Are you going to University? I guess you two don’t want to get separated…?”

We do want to go to the same university! We want to major in the same subject so we can have the same classes!!

 

- MeganAndLizBiggestFan asks “Have you ever met any of your fans? How have they reacted?”

M: We have been lucky enough to meet some of our fans! We LOVE meeting fans.

L: They all have different reactions. Some of them flip out, some of them cry, some are just chill and most have a lot of questions for us! We really do LOVE meeting them!

 

And, because I run a fashion blog…

 

- What are your favourite clothes shops?

Forever 21 & Charlotte Russe

 

- If you could only wear one brand for the rest of your lives, what would it be?

M: Hollister

L: Forever 21

 

- Do you share clothes?

Yes! Every single thing we own we share! We’re the exact same size!

 

- What three things do you never leave the house without?

M: Cell Phone, money & keys

L: Cell Phone, lipgloss and gum

  

Images: Megan And Liz Mace (twitter)

So, big big big big biiiig thank yous to both Megan and Liz, and their lovely Mum (who organised all this for me!) for this interview - and all the very best of luck for a truly amazing future!

LoveLoveLove

- A -

"Thank God even crazy dreams come true" - Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride

By Amy CT · January 9, 2010 · 0 Comments · 139 Views

Image: HERE

As long-time readers will no-doubt have noticed by now, I have some kind of irrational 'thing' for country music, and so when I got Carrie Underwood's second album, Carnival Ride, for Christmas, I was over the moon.

Carrie isn't a country musician in the conventional sense - I'm pretty sure that most people could enjoy at least one song on the second album of Nashville's biggest modern stars!

I was thinking about writing a conventional track-by-track analysis of Carnival Ride, but then I realised that there would be far too much for me to say, and that I would probably bore all of my readers to death if I did that!

Instead, I'm going to embed a video of Carrie singing Just A Dream at the CMT awards - it is a beautiful, tragic song, which I adore.

Carrie, among many other popular artists in America at the moment, is the product of American Idol. So many artists from The X Factor seem to simply get brushed under the carpet, but American Idol has produced some genuine, long-term stars, and Carrie is one of them. With over ten American Billboard number ones under her belt, between 2005 and now, she can definitly be classed among the one-hit wonders that The X Factor seems to churn out...

My favourite song from Carnival Ride was sadly never released as a single, and so there is no official video to show you, but I would urge you all to search out Crazy Dreams on YouTube, where it is surely hiding somewhere - it's such a feel-good song!

 

LoveLoveLove

- A -

 



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