I'm Jono. Pop of culture. A fan of music, food, and film. Salt Lake City's my playground. Creativity is my everything.

Reel Spiel #6

When beginning to watch Waking Ned Devine I anticipated that it wouldn’t be something that someone of my age group would actually enjoy. To my surprise, this film was incredibly funny and the production team owes this to, along with all the other components of filmmaking, editing. The editing in this film would not have been as effective were it not for the flawless use of music and sound when constructing its many scenes.

One of my favorite scenes that is exemplary of the brilliant editing in in this film is one in witch the village “witch” is approaching the phone booth with the intention of reporting the lottery fraud that had occurred. The music in this scene is suspenseful and this matches the abrupt cutting of scenes back and forth. My absolute favorite scene in this movie follows almost the exact same formula, but is even more comedic and full of suspense. The people of the village are mourning the loss of Ned Devine as the lottery employee is approaching their village. The music jumps from sad (as we see the villagers going through the funeral proceedings) to exciting (as we see that the man is driving down the winding roads). For those of you who don’t know this is called parallel editing, also known as cross cutting. The use of this editing technique in this film is crucial so that we may understand what it is that’s going on in an interesting way. 

Most visual punchlines in this picture are fueled by the music and editing. In the aforementioned scenes, there is a moment in which all the action in the scene culminates in a moment of awkwardness, laughter, and/or relief. When the witch falls into the cliff at the end, this is met with a climaxing set of violin strings reaching a very high pitch. Throughout the film music is used brilliantly to convey these moments of high energy and sudden drop of energy. 

There is also a really beautiful scene in which Jackie, the main character, is seen speaking in a dream to the deceased Ned Devine. What I found most interesting of this scene was that it wasn’t of a blue hue like what one would expect of a dream sequence. Being that it is set in Ireland, I feel that the approach towards this scene was different in comparison to that which an American production team would have selected. It is reminiscent of a sepia tone and conveys the age of the two men who are admittedly older.

Waking Ned Devine is equal parts comedy and drama. Both of these traits are delivered brilliantly with the use of editing. In comedic scenes, the cutting is abrupt. In more sentimental scenes there are fading transitions and the shots are longer. Editing in this film is effective and evokes the emotions desired by the director with these different shot lengths and the application of music as well. I recommend this film to those who like a good laugh, but also a deep underlying motif.  

Reel Spiel #5 

Jaws is a powerful movie for many reasons, but the cinematography applied in its creation is what creates a suspension of disbelief and results in the audience’s complete engagement. The bold shots are parallel to the fear that is brought upon by the immensity of a predator, which in this case is a shark. Were it not for the goal of director Steven Spielberg to grasp our attention through camera movement, hues, etc., Jaws would not have the same gripping effect that it has had and will always have.

The most obvious of examples of the most powerful shots of this film are those that are filmed in the water. Jaws is one of the pioneer films, if not the only pioneer, for shots that are filmed halfway underwater. What does the sea level perspective give us? Well, it immediately throws the audience into the action that is happening on film. Shots from above would not convey the terrifying feeling of being in water not knowing what is underneath. Paired with some of the most brilliant scores in movie history, the suspense is increased when we as viewers are partaking in the mystery. Similarly, we are often put into the sharks’ POV (point of view) which allows us to further expect the imminent danger in which the victims are in. Thrusting us into the POV of the shark might be questioned by some because it lessens the element of surprise, but I enjoy it because the underwater ambiance makes me feel all that more claustrophobic and trapped.

What I often noticed in the film Jaws was that there were often “props” on the screen that would break up a rather boring setting. There was also a tremendous use of shadows and silhouettes which provide a sense of eeriness that matches the story within the film. These applications are evident in the scene where Chrissy and her interest are running towards the beach with a broken fence in the background. I found this to be a really beautiful scene because for a second the color scheme was purple-ish which is often seen in the film, but is quite dark in this instance. Here, a fence breaks up the monotonous background while in another scene with Chrissy in the water, there is a buoy in the background that takes up an otherwise uninteresting (unscary) background.

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In a somewhat different way there is a scene in which Brody is sitting on the beach looking into the ocean. This is a profile shot that is a lot more interesting because there is a lot going on in the “blank space” of the shot in which Brody’s head is not found. Here, we also see a continual use of the color yellow as an indication of danger in this film. There are multiple people on this beach that are sporting yellow accessories which then are hurt in someway or another. The slow shots within this scene amp up the suspense and create more eeriness.

Jaws is held accountable for many film cliché’s of today and this is rightfully so. When these filming tricks were new to the film industry they were at their prime effectiveness. They may not have the same effect today, but they are still used because they evoke some sort of emotion. Haven’t seen Jaws? Do so. And make sure to keep an eye out for all these tools I have mentioned that are used to amp up that fear that this film is so iconic for.

Reel Spiel #4

“Ben-Hur”, though not modern by any means, serves as a wonderful example of a film created with passion. A creation that surpasses the attention to detail that Hollywood tends to lack today. What is most impressive of this film, is how epic it truly is. Without the need for the technology that we use in present time, the crew and cast of this film bring to the big screen a feat in itself with the inclusion of imagery that measures up to the fortitude of its characters.

One item that garners much attention by many is how well the whole movie is made, especially when considering its age. It’s simply phenomenal how much time and effort has been put to this movie and it can definitely be seen from every single scene streaming across the screen, one after another. The props, the dressing, basically everything is an achievement like no other and the numbers just speak for themselves; 100,000 costumes, 8,000 assistants, 300 props and the biggest budget at its era. The chariot race is the most explosive and breathtaking seventeen minutes ever given to such a spectacular event—and all of the stunts look perfectly real. It is difficult to believe that none of the stunts were completed with more than minor injuries.

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When discussing this film, most people tend to immediately analyze the special effects that it used and it is hard not to do so because it was so impressive at its time of release. Even today though, being that I saw this for the first time, I still felt the grandeur of it all. I say special effects, but the chariot race (everyone’s favorite from the picture) is the most realistic display of action to hit the big screen, ever. Having intensely choreographed this scene, the cast and crew deliver a chariot race that truly applies the suspension of disbelief. There is no tacky green screen in this scene like those found in “The African Queen”. Here, every bit is real and occurring right before the camera.

We should also note that the dimensionality of the characters in “Ben-Hur” is what keeps the film alive even as it is accompanied by events of epic proportions. Charlton Heston is on top of his game as Ben-Hur with a strength that stems from his acting ability and then seeps its way into his character. Stephen Boyd is also truly a manipulator of the audience with his portrayal as his Roman archenemy. The intensity of the dialogue is fruitful in its effort to keep the audience engaged with the visual components of the film. A few minutes into the film and you know to expect that each romance scene will be extra-romantic and each scene of conflict will include fierce dialogue.

Ben-Hur is something to be watched by those who appreciate good filmmaking, it will forever exist as an older, yet impressive, example of how to make a movie. Why is it that movies are no longer made to the quality of this one nowadays? In a day in age where most people want movies with nonstop action, loud explosions, and vulgarities galore, they have a tendency to forget about the classic movies of the old era that were the stepping stones for the films of today.

Reel Spiel #4

In the film industry, there are two types of films: those which are created with a low-production value and prevail through substance and those which are of high-production value and succeed through spectacle. Singin’ In The Rain is part of the latter. Fear not though, this film is beautifully shot and serves as a time capsule, if you will, for the era in which silent films were pushed to extinction by the introduction of sound to pictures.

Dance numbers are some of the most difficult pieces one could attempt to catch on film. Singin’ In The Rain is full of these and is no exception to this rule. Routine after routine, this movie amps the stakes when it comes to the detail that is to be portrayed onto the big screen. The iconic “Broadway Ballet” number near the culmination of the film, took a month to rehearse, 2 weeks to shoot, and cost a fifth of the overall budget. Arguably, the most impressive bit within this scene is that of the scarf seen in which Cyd Charisse wears a fifty-foot veil made of silk. The camera’s movement during this is fluid much like that of the dancers. The backdrop is notably an illusion meant to trick the eye into believing that the environment goes on and on into the far distance. One must note though that because it is a solid backdrop, shadows are cast onto it, thus ruining the illusion a bit. Today, we would use CGI and a collection of other methods to change this, but truly remarkable is the fact that because there was no such technology in the 50’s the manipulation of space was utilized instead.

The acting in this film is reflective of the efforts used in the musical sequences. Both really create a world that is both fantasy and ultimately believable, let alone the fact that it is based in an era that actually transpired. Lina Lamont, Jene Hagen’s character, is obnoxious such to the point that one could mistaken here for an actual Hollywood starlet. The opening scene is that of a red carpet event for Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont production and it is shot in such a manner that you are immediately thrust into this imaginary world. A few laughs are drawn, and soon we are in the film rooting for Don as he recounts the story of his artistic upbringing in a rather comedic way. We are immediately shown the ironies, and layers of the movie. As we are told about the abrupt transition that Don experiences between rags and riches, we can assume that what we are watching is a commentary on celebrity. Gene Kelly’s portrayal of Don is brilliant as he succeeds in not only playing a part, but playing the part of someone who is also playing a part.

Singin’ In The Rain is truly a beloved classic that is hard not to like. Passion like that of directors Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen for this film is not often present in filmmaking today or it is not apparent. The attention to detail, especially seen in the dance sequences and acting speaks volumes about the era in which this film was made.

Reel Spiel #3

Irony is one of the greatest tools used by directors in an effort to humanize characters and ultimately build interest in the subject matter. Alfred Hitchcock was brilliant in his efforts to evoke such thoughts in his audience, specifically in his film Rear Window. By establishing a world in which the main character is confined to his apartment, Hitchcock reveals to us his voyeuristic personality. Through camera angles, the building of suspense, and of course, his use of irony, the director makes this story believable and entertaining.

Though personally I find it annoying, Hitchcock makes an effort to use mostly wide shots in this film in order to portray the imagery as such that our main character is experiencing on his own. Jeff is his name, and he is recovering from a broken leg, but this is the worst case scenario due to his love for the outside world. What the director does though, is confine us as well, to Jeff’s view of things. Notable also are the long shots that are often difficult to choreograph and execute due to the active participation needed from all those on set. The effect we get though, is impressive. We are no longer detached from the story as solely spectators and enter the role of participant as well. We often only see what Jeff is seeing and what Hitchcock wants us to see.

Suspense is built throughout this movie in a way that is much different from what we see in Hollywood today. There is much more character development, and as we delve into our characters’ worlds more and more, they are fully established in our minds as more believable people. Today, film’s build up to their suspense through the aggressive use of music and fast movement. Though this film takes a more subtle approach, we find that because more attention is paid to the details we can appreciate the climax more. Emotionally investing ourselves into this picture and others like it, allows for a more enjoyable experience that leaves us with a sense of fulfillment.

The use of irony in this movie also allows for the suspense to be more enjoyable. Being that our character has a people-watching personality (he is a photographer), but stuck in a wheelchair within the walls of his apartment brings about a situation that results in a thrilling ride. Everything that happens in this film would not be possible if Jeff had not been injured in the first place. Now that he is in this scenario, he seems to be the center of a lot of problems, though he is merely what brings the pre-existing problems to light. With that being said, the thrill is enhanced because of the cross between victim/perpetrator that our main character walks on.

Rear Window is a film I had wanted to see for many years, ever since I saw Hitchcocks’s film Vertigo. Now, I appreciate everyone’s praise over this film and find it to be well executed even when comparing it to the movies of today. All the effort put into this carefully-assembled masterpiece is demonstrated when noticing all the elements that truly make this a remarkable piece. Hitchcock revolutionized the film-watching experience by putting us in the eye of the hurricane and in the end, creates a world for us to live in as if it were our own.

Reel Spiel #2

Much like the popular music of 2014, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid is a genreless masterpiece that goes where not very many dare to go. It’s not a comedy, but it is not entirely an action film. It has a dash of romance, but it surprisingly isn’t the centerpiece of the movie. Whether or not this approach makes the film a truly good one is open to interpretation, but in my opinion it amuses successfully and paints a better picture of the story through the various styles utilized. 

Our two seemingly brilliant main characters are a sort of duo that one would expect to not run into very many problems with the law, but the irony of this story is that most of it shares with us the challenge they must face when fleeing from a group of men hired to track them down and kill them. What does this bring to light? Well, for starters, the comedy arises mostly from the dialogue expressed between Butch and Sundance when making their escape. Our “brilliant” pairing reveals themselves to be somewhat immature in the way they think the world functions. In a similar fashion to how teenager would behave when being sentenced to after school detention, these rebels assume that eventually the truth will no longer be pursued, allowing them to get away with all their crimes. In addition to this, the escape reveals to us the different layers found in the relationship between these two men. A brotherly love matched with a power struggle illustrates the many ways in which these fellows have something a little more complicated than a simple friendship.

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Now, I’ve told you some pretty great things about this movie, but there is also one scene that was tremendously uncomfortable for me to watch. At one point, Butch picks up Sundance’s lady friend and takes her for a joy ride on his bicycle. The most disturbing part of this scene? The entirely startling choice of music played alongside the footage. Second most disturbing? The imagery. The film opens with a sepia tone overlay and much of its beginning paints a far more serious tone. Then, we’re suddenly thrown into a world full of sunflowers and butterflies that ultimately leaves you more confused than anything else. 

I did enjoy this film though, and I could almost bet that the director wanted it to be taken both seriously and not too seriously. It’s a parody of sorts and paved the way for future action-comedies of recent times. The only thing that may disappoint is the lack of a “lesson learned”. If you enjoy movies that have some big reveal at the end that teaches some sort of moral than I don’t believe this to be something that you would enjoy. Yes, there is a journey for our main characters, but the end of their journey is just that: an abrupt end. 

Reel Spiel #1

The African Queen

Flowing gradually towards a culmination of emotion and devotion; much like the river through which our main characters journey, the story of The African Queen is one that unfolds quite steadily with an eruptive conclusion. Premiering in 1951, this film pioneered the formula that you may recognize today in films that captures the lightheartedness of a romantic comedy with an edge of adventure. John Huston through character development and the film’s pace reveals much about Hollywood in the 1950s.

Much like many other aspects of the entertainment industry, at one point the pace at which a film’s plot unraveled was much slower. Today, the film industry makes a “cookie cutter” attempt to create films with stories that grow quickly and that do not leave enough time for character development. The opposite is true for The African Queen. With not much action and a laugh or two in every scene, the aforementioned film reveals more about the main characters than it does about the noise around them.

What characters say and do in a movie is important; but in an older film such as The African Queen, what they say reveals much more. At one point our female lead, Rose, says to her male counterpart, Charlie, “Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above”. When hearing this, I wondered to myself: Who is really saying this? It’s certainly not Katherine Hepburn who is simply being paid to regurgitate the line. Someone with a heavy perspective on human nature and the damage it causes wrote this line and it was put into the film to send a message. This still exists in films; but its use in this production in particular is a testament to the way in which an era utilized film as a tool to sway people’s opinions. Perhaps, this was the portrayal and voice of a people who stood in dismay as unconventional stars like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley became prominent; and what happens to Rose eventually? She let’s her hair down: both figuratively and literally.

The film opens with a rather subtle, but powerful pan of the jungle in which our story takes place. This sets the mood for what we are about to encounter. When first watching the film, I couldn’t help but be surprised at how much Hollywood has changed since the making of The African Queen. Compare it to the opening of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows: Part 2: abrupt, sudden, and action-packed, much like the rest of the movie. In a completely different attempt, Huston directs a more calming opening which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the piece.

A lovely film with characters that we learn to love through its duration, but nonetheless an adventure as well, is The American Queen. May you watch it for the laughs, tears, or jumps, this film will combine genres of film like Hollywood has yet to replicate. A masterpiece encompassing the tragedy and beauty of love and loss begs the question, why can’t it be the 50s.

Track Attack #23

What do we want? More Track Attacks!

When do we want them?! Now!

Where the hell has Jono been? Why, on vacation. A boy’s got to have fun every once in a while you know.

How will I ever redeem myself…? Well, how about I start by introducing you all to yet another wonderful tune that deserves its 15 minutes of glory. Rita Ora released this jewel a while back, but the fun that comes from singles being released at different times around the globe is that the song can be discovered over and over by music lovers everywhere. “I Will Never Let You Down” is the kind of song my heart has been needing lately. Everywhere I turn there’s another track that shares with us the tragic side of love (Thanks a lot, Sam Smith). You know, I just realized that this song is perfect for today. I will never let you down, readers.

Long ago, in a world that seems so far away, Britney Spears and N’Sync dominated the world with what everyone seemed to refer to as “bubblegum pop”. Today, the phrase is used a lot less since music has changed, but “I Will Never Let You Down” holds elements of this since-abandoned genre that has a truly endearing quality about it. In no way are my intentions to degrade Rita Ora’s work nor am I implying that her music is absent-minded. Much like when a girl is in love and she has that “jump in her step”, this song has a jump in its step that brings joy to your heart when giving it a listen.image

Who is this Rita Ora chick? You may have heard her being mentioned as Calvin Harris’s girlfriend, but other than that, she has been relatively unspoken of in the States. (By the way: though it doesn’t seem possible, Harris wrote this song for the songstress. What?!)

Whether you sing along to this song with your boyfriend/girlfriend in mind, a relative, or even yourself, it’s a complete feel-good jam you can’t help but blast at maximum volume.

Hopefully, the US is as accepting of Rita as the UK has been because her talent is too good to overlook and should be enjoyed at an international level. I hate to make a comparison, but Rita Ora reminds me of the Rihanna that we once knew. That’s what we need today!!! Bring on the lovey dovey energy and may it prevail.

 *puts wine glass in air* “To love!”

*clink*

Track Attack #22

"Oh, I don’t know why, but I’ve always loved the idea of summer, and sun, and all things hot.”

Speaking of hot, today’s Track Attack is scorching. "Single In The Summer" by D-WHY is bursting at the seams with greatness. So many amazing rap acts are rising from the shadows and I’m not fighting it at all. 

D-WHY, like so many rappers in 2014, are giving rap and hip-hop a little bit of a makeover. Experimentation, my friends. That’s where this entire movement has stemmed from; a place of wanting to start mixing flavors in the urban kitchen. 

At first, D-WHY appears to be a pretty boy that could croon in Lana Del Rey fashion, but as soon as you hit play, you realize that this man spits rhymes worthy of a second, third, even one hundredth listen. & yes, his work is just as beautiful as his face. 

"Single In The Summer" gives you that "WTF, why didn’t I think of that first?" feeling. It’s kind of a no-brainer or perhaps, that’s what makes tracks like this one so likeable—it’s so good that the idea seems so obvious. The music video is packed with nostalgic images of summer in America throughout the years. In what seems to be a trending method in music today, the pairing of nostalgia and freshness bring out the best in the artist because of the juxtaposition of their originality and their brilliant use of past masterpieces.

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If you’re wanting to let loose and feel sexy this summer (whether you’re single or not) then you better be downloading this tune immediately. What’s even better is the fact that you can either purchase it on iTunes here or download it for free here

Twitter.

Insta.

Track Attack #21

I think I might be sick… in the head. Today’s Track Attack has infected my entire being and it’s time to diagnose it. Shall we?

Though seemingly harmless at first, Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” is an abusive amount of musical perfection that will keep you moving and singing along uncontrollably. I must find out who this woman is! Someone arrest her for this masterpiece she has created!

Today, artists (that actually care about how meaningful the work they put out is) struggle to catch the audience’s attention while still staying true to themselves and producing unique creations. No, even though you might feel teleported to the 50s after hearing this track you are still living in the year 2014. Listening to it is almost a bit of a Back to the Future experience. With a nod to America’s musical history, Meghan Trainor (or her team) cleverly release an undeniably summer-sounding tune into the universe just in time for barbeque and bikini season.

As I mentioned before, the song includes a vintage sound, but even this did not allow Trainor to shy away from creating a totally modern visual for it in the song’s music video. With the inclusion of viral Vine star Sione Maraschino in the video, the entire project becomes a juxtaposition of flavors and eras. 

How can it even get any better? The damn song is about LOVING YOUR CURVES. Summertime is the absolute best time to remind ourselves that though we may choose to pursue a life that’s healthier, it’s okay to enjoy our favorite foods, shake our huge asses, and share with everyone how much more of us there is to love! Be about the bass, and not about the treble.(;

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Straight from Massachusetts to the world’s ears, this young lady will probably not be hiding from us in the coming months. Crude, but collected. Sassy, but classy. There is no underestimating what is to come from Trainor because she is a whole lot of funk beneath that innocent looking face. 

Diagnosis: I have a severe case of the Meghan Trainor jitterbugs.

Follow her.

Like her.

Watch her.

Wait, that sounds a lot like what I do when stalking my crushes.

Track Attack #20

What genre even is this?

Well, genres are somewhat obsolete today, but Nicole Scherzinger is certainly not. Ladies and gentleman, this pop star’s first single off her forthcoming 2014 album (which I’m beyond excited for) “Your Love” is Track Attack No. 20. Urban pop? A cross between American clichés and English subtleties? Let’s break it down. 

Though I’ve blossomed into a lover of the entire musical spectrum, I started out as a pop-obsessed youngster who is still very much a part of my daily experience with music. Nicole Scherzinger, being one of the first entities to infuse pop music into my identity, has struck a sense of loyalty in me towards all of her projects. She too is an artistic buffet with a wide array of musical experience tucked behind her ear, proving her credibility. This woman has done everything from opera to sexual innuendo. Now, she presents us with new music to be added within her repertoire.

Scherzinger has seemingly disappeared from America for a while now, but has been busy building a relationship with the UK as a judge on the original The Voice series. This has greatly influenced her artistic endeavors resulting in a sound that is a blend of many elements. As the U.S. continues to produce hit after hit abould wiggling butts and being turnt the UK have recently leaned towards a more classically pop approach. 

Love songs. Dance/house beats. The inclusion of raw sounds like guitars and piano. Eurosynth. Nicole has undoubtedly adopted many of these elements into her new music as she begins to market herself, quite directly, to a European audience instead of an American one. The result? A fucking amazing track. 

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How does this beauty top all of this that I’ve mentioned? By yet another inclusion of inspiration: her Hawaiian roots. Much like an island tribes chant, the “doo doo doos” throughout are intensely infectious. The only shade I can throw is towards the incessant need the writers of the song felt to use the word “baby” a thousand times, Other than that, I predict that this song will be perfect to play while rolling around with the windows down this summer. 

This song makes me feel like…!!!

Follow Nicole on the twitters.

Track Attack #19

Well, well… Look what we have here: a track that I was afraid to review because of how long ago it was released, but now… it has bitten me and I am obligated to give it its well-deserved attention. Though not new at all, “Doses & Mimosas” by CHERUB will feel new no matter how many times you’ve heard it. Daring to go where few do, this anthem is both powerful and a musical ugly duckling.

Look up! What is that in the sky?! Is it Macklemore?! Is that Daft Punk?! No! It’s… It’s… CHERUB. At first, I assumed these guys were European because of how different their sound is, but make no mistake: these guys are straight up American. Having met at university in Tennessee, these fellows have since been hard at work with a steady ascendance into a notoriety they have earned. 

Upon my first listen, “Doses” was not tremendously impressive. Lyrically, not much is inspired by lines like “champagne and cocaine help to get me through”. Give it a few tries though, and the track becomes incredibly infectious. Word-choice aside, the message is resounding: I’m going to have a good time and not sweat the petty things. Yeah, yeah. I’m sure your favorite artist has a song with a similar story, but CHERUB executes it mercilessly.

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With the perfect blend of silly and serious, these guys make music that’s both fun to listen to and ,at times, pretty damn meaningful. In a similar manner to Chromeo, there’s a vintage edge to CHERUB that incorporates modern technology to create a sound that is both nostalgic and refreshing. Mark my words: by the end of 2014 you will know CHERUB.

Skim through their music on YouTube or SoundCloud and you might just fall in love. There is no conventionality here. Given enough of a chance, this ugly duckling will surely prove itself to be a damn good-looking swan.

Tweets.

Videos.

Sounds.

Track Attack #18

Every genre of music can make you feel like you can conquer the world, but rap and hip-hop have an inexplicable adrenaline-inducing ambience about them that coronates even the weakest of us. Seems easy, right? Spitting rhymes. Telling a story through words. Well, it’s easy to assume this as an easy task. Make no mistake though; pride and success are two very different things. Occasionally, a fresh face like David Dallas, mastermind behind “The Wire” featuring Ruby Frost takes on the feat of approaching rap in an innovative way whilst still paying tribute to its unwavering roots.

We’ve heard it before and can be summed up in the now infamous words of (one of the best rap/hip-hop artists out there, in my opinion) Drake, “Started from the bottom, now we’re here”. It’s a staple in rap music to bring up #TheStruggle, but in the true name of art, reinvention is what keeps us engaged in the ongoing pursuit of success. New Zealand native, David Dallas is included in these efforts to keep the genre fresh and fruitful for audiences to come.

On this track, Dallas brings in electronic elements which we see more and more across the musical spectrum of today. Frost’s vocals bring to mind the chants in Kanye West’s “Power" with a poignant air that stains the fabric of your mind. Though not necessarily a revolutionary sound, this collaboration is definitely not product of the egotistical/boastful rhyme machine that an array of rap and hip-hop acts seem to use when creating.

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A lá Childish Gambino, clever, playful, and curious rap artists continue to push the envelope and make worth-your-while music like “The Wire” that strays from your typical rhymes about poppin’ dem bottles and hangin’ with dem bitches. This track, along with others, are examples of how rap is also changing and keeping up with the evolution in music. Clichés are dead and todaymore than ever beforemusic with substance is needed. Feeling defeated? Dallas will inspire and hopefully uplift you. (& to think that I just said clichés are dead… Hahahahahaha.)

David Dallas tweets.

Explore Ruby Frost here.

Track Attack #17

How. Has. This. Track. Not. Blown. Up. Already?! Well, it is my duty to attack it for us all (By “attack” I mean review and basically say good things about it).

Open up your blender y’all because I’ve got a recipe for you. First, open up a can of Jamaican vibes. Okay, now mix in some romantic Maroon 5 lyrics. Got it? Now we’ll add some Gym Class Heroes playfulness. All righty then, blend that shit, add some originality that we haven’t seen in the American music scene for a while & then BAM. You’ve got some Magic! I don’t care if you’ve never heard of Magic!. I do care though, if you don’t love their track “Rude” after hearing it. Let’s break it down, my friends.

*pulls out hammock* *lays in hammock* *listens to “Rude”* There’s no denying that this track has some tropical influences throughout which isn’t necessarily a Magic! must (see “Don’t Kill The Magic”). Musicians that can dabble in multiple genreswithout coming off as gimmickyare the most impressive as seen with these guys. The only hilarious part about their island influence is the fact that the band is from Canada. Canada? Reggae? Yes, really.

This is your typical love story, but not your typical love song. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Girl’s father ain’t having it. Plot twist? Boy directs song to father. Father’s a complete asshole and won’t change his mind. Boy and girl elope. That’s how it’s done. There’s a bit of cliché in the track, but there’s also a novelty about it that’s charming. Lead singer Nasri Atweh’s voice is flawless paired with the music, as if by design, giving the song a completely natural feel. There’s no forcefulness in the song at all. This is a stress free zone.

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If I haven’t been clear enough, I really like this song. It’s an easy song. You don’t have to put too much thought into it, it’s just really really good. Music like this though gets abused by American charts and radio which tend to hang it up like underwear on a flagpole. When it’s thrown up there it’s a cute idea, but after a while everyone’s thinking to themselves “Okay, this is getting old. Bring it down. Poor soul.” Although, I doubt Magic! has sold themselves into The Illuminate yet. I hope you sense my sarcasm. 

The video's pretty cute or whatever.

Give them a follow? Perhaps on the Insta?

Track Attack #16

Once upon a time, in 2010, a sixteen year old version of yours truly was on a flight and while browsing through the music provided on board I discovered Sia's album We Are Born (Specifically, her song “You’ve Changed" was my favorite and I downloaded it onto my iPod as soon as I got home). Fast forward four years later… Sia has become a musical tornado that no one is able to tame. With her new single "Chandelier" it is hard to not predict that a hit, or a few, will soon be infiltrating our playlists.

Tragic. Beautiful. Simplistic. Complicated. Our 16th Track Attack is a combination of all these. Sia sings, “party girls don’t get hurt” & ”holding on for dear life”. Lyrically, the song is both a plea for help and a statement reminiscent of the old adage - You Only Live Once. I assume that we can all relate to Sia’s message. At one point or another, we find moments where we have an out-of-body experience, not of the spiritual sense, but one of emotional detriment. There’s always that night out where you forget who you are for a few moments because forgetting yourself is forgetting your problems.

For me, the chorus of this track is unexpected. Having been witness to the “Titanium" plague, I assumed something similar to this. Sia’s vocals are more evocative of Rihanna’s in "Diamonds" (which she assisted in writing). It’s not a ballad, but it’s definitely not a clubbanger. Quite honestly, it’s a new breed of music that is growing to a surprising level of popularity. A mixing of classical, rock, and electronic elements has enabled an unnamed genre to strive in the American music scene which includes the likes of Lorde, CHVRCHES, etc.

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Don’t get me started on the music video! It’s what sold me on this song and truly made me believe in its credibility. Do you see the girl pictured above? That’s Maddy Ziegler from that trashy Dance Moms reality show, but let me tell you… nothing about her performance in the video is trashy. Nothing about her performance makes sense for that matter. It doesn’t have to though; everything about it is perfectly constructed to match the emotional vocal delivery from Sia. It haunts like a horror film, but inspires much like any effective dance routine does. *wipes tears* 

Moral of the story? Unpretentious musicians will prevail. Go download Chandelier because its pretty much the bomb. Follow Sia. The End.

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