Firstly I would like to apologise for neglecting my blogs for so long recently. I'm going to try and update this as often as I can...
The best thing about blogging is that you can get things off your chest and watching the news today has made me want to get behind my laptop and have a good RANT.
Two stories on have really angered me today:
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni signs anti-gay bill
Arizona passes law allowing shopkeepers to refuse to serve gay people
It is 2014 isn't it? I find it very hard to believe that this sort of behaviour still goes on. I don't get it at all. Both "laws" use religion as the reasoning behind them, particularly Christianity.
To me, using Christianity as a reason to discrminate is painfully ironoc as it should be based around the teachings of Jesus who famously said :
"You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48, NIV)
I rarely use The Bible to strengthen my arguments but the "good book" is interpreted in many different ways and that is the major problem. People choose what they want to believe and will find whatever quote they need in there to back up thier prejudices.
Anyway, that's what I think. Don't even get me started on Russia...
First of all, sorry this list is so late in the year, but 2013 was one of the better years in film. I did consider a top five list, but there were too many to choose from and doing a top twenty list may have been rather excessive!
Before the good stuff though, I thought I'd choose the three worst films. Like the worst songs of the year, these were not hard decisions!
3. Man of Steel
I have serious issue with this film but not because it's a bad film. It was just incredibly disappointing. The original Richard Donner movie is a work of art, it had bags of humour and chemistry between the leads. None of this was here, it was just way too serious and dull. Here's hoping that the planned sequal is a big improvement.
2. Crystal Fairy & The Magical Cactus
I don't like slating indie films because they don't have the budget and production values that larger studios can offer, but this film just gave me a headache. I mean, seriously, what the hell was going on???
1. The Big Wedding
This film has Robert De Niro, Susan Sarandon and Diane Keaton. What could go wrong? Everything it seems! The whole cast just seemed to be embarrased about being involved - apart from De Niro who was overracting so much I though he was going to do "jazz hands" towards the "hilarious" finale.
Ok, that was the bad ones. Let's turn things around now and look at the best:
10. Despicable Me 2
Absolutely hilarious! That's all I have to say, just go and watch this film and laugh your lungs out.
9. Anchorman 2
The sequal to the original had a lot to live up to and, while it wasn't as sharp or satirical as the first one, there are plenty of laughs and inspired cameos to make this film a huge pleasure to watch.
8. The Heat
Another great comedy film. 2013 was definitely the year of Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy is always brilliant. Not only was this film funny, it also had a good story. I really hope they all team up again for a sequal or three.
7. Sunshine On Leith
Dexter Fletcher directing a musical based on songs by The Proclaimers? Not the most obvious idea for a movie but it works excellently. The cast are wonderful, the scenery of Edinburgh is just beautiful and the songs work faultlessly. There's really only one word to best describe this film - JOYOUS.
6. About Time
If any film was going to be divisive I never expected it to be this one. The film was slated by a lot of people and I really do not understand why. It's truly captivating, delightful and enchanting. Just ignore the "sci fi" element to the film and just enjoy the beautiful love story. If you don't believe me though, this is what Joe [@jrawly] thought:
5. Pacific Rim
This film was brought to you by the same studio that brought you Man Of Steel and has everything that should have been in the Superman movie. It was funny, had characters you end up caring about and some eye popping 3D effects. A sequal is being planned. With any luck there will be a lot of mileage in this franchise.
4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Cineworld really hammered the advertising of this film to the point of me almost not wanting to see it. Thankfully though Joe and I saw the film at a "secret preview" and it ended up being the nicest surprise of the year. Visually stunning with a lovely heart to it. Beautiful.
Most of the time when films are hyped up to the level Gravity has been over the last few months, it means that the film will ultimately be a huge disappointment (Man of Steel). However, Gravity completely lives up to all the hype and, thanks to the stunning sounds and visual effects, is more than just a movie - it's a fully immersive experience. Sandra Bullock is outstanding in the lead role, especially when you consider the actual "gravity" of the task she has been given as an actress. I saw the film at Cinewords "D Box" (http://www.d-box.com/) and it honesty incredible.
2. Saving Mr Banks
A Disney film about the origins of another Disney film doesn't sound that interesting, but Saving Mr Banks was sheer bliss thanks to a brilliant performance by Emma Thompson. I really think this was some of the best acting I have ever seen by a single person. As well as this Tom Hanks makes you believe he is Walt Disney. Seeing the story behind the book adds another level to the Mary Poppins movie. If I was in charge, I would just hand every Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA to Emma Thomson now and not bother with any other nominees.
Since the release of Toy Story 3, Pixar have had a few misfires and seem to be obsessed sequals and prequals. During this time, Disney's own animation studios have been going from strength to strength with The Princess and The Frog, Tangled, Wreck it Ralph and now Frozen - one of the best movies ever to have the Disney name on it.
Based on the classic Snow Queen, the film follows the relationship of two sisters, one with rather dangerous powers. During the film we hear some amazing songs written by some of the team behind the brilliant Avenue Q and some very impressive animation. When these two things work together well is during the "Let It Go" sequence and the whole thing is dazzling.
The studio was very clever advertising the film throughout the year while at the same time not giving much away about it. It obviously worked for them as Frozen is already the most successful Disney cinema release of all time. An accolade that is fully deserved.
So they are my choices, do you agree? Have your say in the comments section.
Musically 2013 has been one of the better years for music, especially pop and dance and choosing the best tracks of the year was actually much harder than I expected but I've had a great time listening and deciding!
Before the good stuff, I thought I'd choose the three worst songs. Unlike the best, these were not hard decisions!
3. will.i.am - #thatPOWER ft. Justin Bieber
During this electrical mess of a song, Justin repeatedly sings "I'm alive, I'm alive, I'm alive." Thanks for ruining our days and reminding us! (By the way, I haven't lost the concept of correct grammar, that is how the title of the song is written!)
2. Geri Halliwell - Half of Me
When I fist saw this clip on YouTube, I thought is was a joke. Sadly, it wasn't. To call this song cheap and nasty crap would actually sodden the good name of actual cheap and nasty crap.
1. Robin Thicke - Blurred Lines ft. Pharrell and some other misogynistic dickhead
It's the date rape anthem of the year! I won't go on about how much I think Robin "Thicke" is a total tw*t as the people that know me already have heard my views many, many times. The only good thing about this track is the very infectious bassline, but there's a very good reason for that...
That's the nasty stuff out of the way, here are my picks for the best songs of 2013 :)
10. Mackmore and Ryan Lewis - Thrift Shop...
Catchy as hell with witty lyrics, Macklemore was a breath of fresh air this year - there'll be more of him later...
9. Kylie Minogue - Skirt
I'm slightly cheating here as this wasn't an actual single but a "buzz track" released to DJs. I'm just glad I got a copy of it! 2014 will be a big year for Kylie with a new album and "The Voice." I really hope "Skirt" is a preview of what is to come next year.
8. Mariah Carey - Almost Home
I do love a bit of Mariah but here recent material has been rather dubious. This song from "Oz: The Great and Powerful" is easily the best thing she has done in ages. It was just a pity that it wasn't the massive hit it clearly deserved to be.
7. The 1975 - Chocolate
The 1975 were another new act making a big impact in 2013. Their debut album deservedly got to number one and the first single from it was an bouncy and great piece of guitar pop.
6. Icona Pop - I Love It
Yet another new act in 2013, this song has been played on ratation for about 10 months of this year and I'm still not tired of it. Brilliant stuff!
5. Avicii - Wake Me Up
2013 has been a great year for dance music and Avicii is one of the main reasons. I'm already a massive fan of Aloe Blac, so it was no surprise at all that I was going to love this one. However, it wasn't the best thing Avicii did this year...
4. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis - Same Love featuring Mary Lambert
In terms of equal rights, 2013 has been pretty monumental and this song was an excellent highlight of this year. The "Hip-Hop" community are not really know for their love of the "gays," so this track was a massive step forward. The seven minute video that accompanied it was just beautiful
3. Daft Punk - Get Lucky
Daft Punk came back this year in a big way and this track was MASSIVE. Are we really surprised? It was just fantastic! If I had to name my album of 2013, then it would be Random Access Memories - pure excellence!
2. P!nk - Just Give Me A Reason ft. Nate Ruess
How lovely was this song? Very! P!nk has an amazing voice all the time, but her vocals on this song are just exceptional. The fact that this song has now spent a year in the charts is proof that a good song will always win out in the end.
1. Avicii vs Nicky Romero - I Could Be The One (Nicktim)
2013 was the year that Avicii hit the big time and this was his first number one single. The video is absolutely magnificent and the track burrowed into my head at the start of the year and is still there now!
So they are my choices, do you agree? Have your say in the comments section
Gareth Icke ‘Beat Up’ Single Review
By Graham Halsey
Gareth Icke is back with his third single from the enduring second album ‘A Brand New Battle’. In preparation to review the new single I had a thorough listen to said album and it was an intriguing listen.
The son of public speaker David Icke you can hear his fathers influence in his lyrics about freeing yourself from corporate and negative bondage.
‘Beat Up’ is a message song.
Some of you will be put off by that and you shouldn’t be. In terms of pure pop rock ‘Beat Up’ is a melodic masterpiece. The song puts it’s hooks into you from the outset and the upbeat feel with jangly and never overly heavy guitar tones means that although this song is certainly falls within the rock genre, it retains a more wide spread appeal and would not sound out of place on drive time BBC Radio 1.
Given the Ickes relationship with the BBC its heart warming to note that Gareth has already been on the Radio 1 Play list before with his debut solo single only to be removed when Michael Jackson passed away.
I think if ‘Beat Up’ were to gain national radio play this single would easily sail into the Top 10. Sadly however the music industry is a fickle place and Id struggle to see Gareth’s current single getting the attention nationally it deserves. Back when I first began to write music reviews you’d have got a good chance of getting an Independent release into the charts, several indie labels did just that but in these times of X Factor white wash it’s not so easy anymore.
Taken purely on merit ‘Beat Up’ is a fabulous single that deserves to be a hit. Gareth knows how to craft great melodic rock and I for one will be keeping my ears and eyes open for any new releases from this man.
Another thing that appealed to my ‘old guy from the 80s’ sensibilities is that Gareth has elected to include a B Side with this single.
‘Beat Up Live At Wembley’ Arena is a punchy performance of the A Side and im sure the man’s proud to have performed it at Wembley Arena. The single is out on the 16th of December (Monday) and is an iTunes only release (shame I do like vinyl singles myself).
I urge you to put out of your mind any preconceived ideas you might have about Gareth Icke and his music and give the single a whirl because I guarantee that once you have you’ll be heading back to his iTunes store for a listen to the rest of his already impressive solo output.
FAC51 The Hacienda are putting on an amazing New Years Eve party at the newly reopened Albert Hall venue in the heart of Manchester.
The line up sees a trio of US DJ legends perform at the event, Frankie Knuckles, Todd Terry and Marshall Jefferson, joined by DJs from FAC 51 including Graeme Park, Tom Wainwright, Allister Whitehead, 808 State DJs and more while Happy Monday's Rowetta performs a live PA and Bez brings in the New Year in his own inimitable fashion.
Legendary DJ Graeme Park said ;
Much loved Happy Mondays backing vocalist Rowetta also spoke about this New Year Event at The Albert Hall ;
Haçienda – New Years Eve at Albert Hall,Manchester
Tuesday 31st December 2013 / 9pm to 4am
27 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR
Tickets £25 First Release / £30 Second Release
Line Up – Main Room - Frankie Knuckles, Todd Terry, Marshall Jefferson,GraemePark, Herbie Saccani, Rowetta (Live PA), Chris Crooks on Percussion
& Bez As Vibe Provider To Bring In The New Year
Downstairs - Hacienda Classics with Allister Whitehead, Tom Wainwright,
808 State Djs, Tricky Disko
Ticket Links – See Tickets - http://bit.ly/HacNYEAlbertHallSeeTickets