Monday, 30 December 2013

2013: A Year in GIFS (Part 1)

Oh 2013, you been so crazy. "It's gone by so fast" they say, but has it really? No. In a nutshell, the music industry hit new lows, the remakes and sequels came in abundance, 'Yeezus' & 'Yoncé were born and twerking (more appropriately, "twerking") killed us all. Anyway, here we are. Starting off with:

What even happened in January? Practically a lifetime ago, Justin Timberlake dropped this video, telling us that he's just about had enough of making mediocre movies for the time being and will go back to doing what he was born to do - making incredible music. It was only 10 days into the new year and the excitement for new music from our faves was at an all time high. 

This was me:


And this was Britney:

More on her later.

The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced by Emma Stone and this years host Seth McFarlane, with Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Les Misérables leading the pack with a whopping 39 nominations between the four of them alone. Twitter-wide outrage swept the film community as Leonardo DiCaprio found himself without a nom for his portrayal as the evil slave owner, Calvin J. Candie in Django Unchained. Mysteriously left out of the race after what many described as one of his best performances, I feel like he deserved the recognition alone for smashing a glass, bleeding everywhere and carrying on with the scene. 

Never forget:

(This is actually from 2012 but it's perfect, no?)

It was still cold and disgusting outside, but on the 3rd, THE SUPERBOWL happened. AKA the one day a year where England pretends to be interested in American football and just sits waiting for the Half Time Show. Within the 2013 edition, we were graced with a 15 minute play-off from part-time mother, full-time flaw-free superstar Beyoncé  Giselle Knowles. Beyoncé , (who'd also just struck a $50 million deal with Pepsi) performed Baby Boy, Halo, Crazy In Love and Love on Top in addition to Independent Woman, Bootylicious and Single Ladies with her former comrades: 


From January to November many sat on the edge of their seats waiting for a new Beyoncé album to be released. Sure, one song leaked here, one song leaked there, and then another way over there, but Queen B subsequently spent almost the whole year doing this:

"Releasing a new single....PSYCH!!!!!"

"Releasing a new album...PSYCH!!!!!"

"Shooting a video for my new single....PSYYYYYCHHHHH!!!!!!!!" 

and so on. 

The 85th Academy Awards took place on the 24th, and saw Argo crowned Best Picture. Who knew that Daredevil and the star of Gigli could do it? I don't even think he did. Daniel Day Lewis was awarded Best Actor for is portrayal of President Lincoln, and Jennifer Lawrence won her first Oscar starring in Silver Linings Playbook opposite Bradley Cooper. She took a teeny tumble while going up for her gong:

Better luck next time. And there will be a next time. 

The weather started to get a little better over here, acting as a tiny precursor to blaring hot Summer that awaited us in July. It was glorious. Three of the most exciting and innovative films of 2013 were released this month; Stoker, Spring Breakers and The Place Beyond The Pines. Pines proved to us once again that Ryan Gosling could do no wrong while Stoker and Spring Breakers showed that films centring on young, fatal yet ultra-feminine women could actually be pretty good.

One album and one single released that month dominated the charts and airways like none other. Part 1 of JT's '20/20 Experience' hit/destroyed shelves, and moved almost 1.3 million copies in a week. In fact, it was the top selling album of the week worldwide, three weeks in row. Furthermore, Robin Thicke dropped 'Blurred Lines' which eventually became his most successful single worldwide to date. Aided by the controversial video which made Emily Ratajkowski tumblr-famous, the track climbed to #1 in 21 countries (it stayed at the top spot in the US for 12 weeks) but found itself swimming within oceans of criticism here, there, and over there. I probably should've used a gif actually featuring Robin Thicke up there but whatever. Featuring T.I and Pharrell Williams, 'Blurred Lines' became the first single featuring Williams to take over 2013 - which leads us to...

Daft Punk released 'Get Lucky', the first single of the duo's fourth album 'Random Access Memories'. Co-fronted once again by the NERD and Neptunes super-producer, the single so far has sold around 7.5 million copies, received two Grammy nominations and reached #1 in over 20 countries. Phew.

The TV series adaptation of Thomas Harris's  Hannibal founds its way to NBC & Sky1, with Mads Mikkelsen taking on the titular role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  Acting as a precursor to the various incarnations of the character, showrunner, Bryan Fuller (behind both Pushing Daises and Dead Like Me) created a "movieshow" hybrid powerful enough to join the ranks of The Walking Dead and Mad Men

Drink to that.

May saw the screen adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "great American novel" The Great Gatsby released across the world. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the party-loving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, the film was an over-the-top spectacle directed by Moulin Rouge's Baz Luhrmann. Plagued by two release date set backs in addition to its confusingly heightened reality, it failed to connect with audiences and critics the way many had hoped. 

But it wasn't all bad, as 'Gatsby' ended up grossing close to $350 million (about £212.2 million) worldwide. It's not an Oscar but I'm sure Leo will find a way to deal. 
The greatest post-Friends-friendly-based-sitcom Happy Endings was cancelled after failing to be shopped to other networks. This was 6 months ago and the wound is still open, bleeding like it was yesterday. I will never see Max, Brad, Jane, Alex, Dave and most importantly Penny on my television  laptop screen ever again and I have the ABC Network to thank for that. 


A part of me inside has been like this ever since:

While everyone else is pretty much this:

and THAT'S because they didn't even know the show existed neither do they even know what it is now. Urgh, everyone apart from me (and the five others I know who watched it) needs to get their acts together.

The underrated J. Cole dropped the incredible 'Born Sinner' with Kanye unveiling 'Yeezus', both on the 18th. 'Yeezus' saw Kanye take an uncomfortable stroll outside of his comfort zone and into the realms of the nightmarishly industrial.

I have three words for Yeezus. 

What. A. Mess. 

What the hell happened to Kanye this year? He seems to be more impatient, angry and juvenile than ever. Since his success in the mainstream from 2004, his career has been about one thing and one thing only. His mouth. From his great/embarrassing interview answers this year to his questionable music videos, it's clear he's lost his damn mind.

It's incredibly hard to take him seriously. 

As with Britney, more on this one later.

Anyway, six months down, six months to go. July to December will be coming in the next post. 

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Beyoncé - BEYONCÉ

It was a morning like any other. Taking a brief look at Facebook while I was getting ready for work...BAM. The top post was a friend of mine screaming that the new Beyoncé album had been released earlier that same morning. After almost a year of teasing, leaked tracks, a tour and a Superbowl performance, it was finally here. All 14 tracks became available at once, accompanied with seventeen, SEVENTEEN music videos from the artist exclusively released on iTunes. 

Recorded in secret with the bulk of the studio sessions taking place in The Hamptons, the album was crafted alongside Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams and the soon to be known worldwide, Boots among others. With only a few key names in Bey's council aware of the movement, as well as a few iTunes execs, the release date for BEYONCÉ was only finalised a week before it's initial send off.

The album contains Beyoncé's brand of picture painting ballads ('Pretty Hurts', 'Heaven', 'XO' and 'Blue') while also containing more R&B and Hip-Hop sounds than her previous efforts. It's easy to hear the sounds of Kendrick Lamar in her vocal delivery on 'Haunted' as well as the downtrodden minimalism of Drake and Noah "40" Shebib.

What's new is the fact that she's taking a page out of the filthy books written by Madonna and Rihanna; leaving little to the imagination in both the lyrical, and the video content. 'Partition', 'Rocket' and 'Blow' are busting with innuendos ("Reach into the bottom of my fountain, I wanna play in your deep" from Rocket for example) which move her from the PG-ish middle row we're used to seeing her in, and onto a much higher magazine shelf out of reach for the younger ones. Whether she's seducing husband Jay-Z (obviously),  frolicking about alone in the sheets, or milling around the back streets of Paris with models Chanel Iman, Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls, she's letting it all hang out. 

The videos do often seem flawless. Captured effortlessly in Rio, Houston, Paris, New York, Sydney and Houston again, Beyoncé travels the world with Solange, Kelly, Jay, Michelle, Pharrell and baby Blue in tow. The star gives us flashbacks to her childhood hustle, in 'Grown Woman' and '***Flawless' which seem strangely juxtaposed to those more...salacious moments. The whole thing is almost a non-linear biopic from the Texas natives origin, to where she sees herself now.

The line "All these record labels' boring" from Ghost/Haunted feels like the spirit behind BEYONCÉ's whole concept. In fact, Beyoncé (the artist and the album) may change the way record labels market and distribute music from now on. Who knows. But what we definitely do know too well from the constant criticism of her and her peers, is that you can't catch a break as a female artist. You're either too sexy or not sexy enough, too plain or too extroverted. What Beyoncé's figured out is that you're gonna be objectified no matter what you do, and whether you like it or not. So you might as well go ahead and do it yourself. 


Key Tracks: ***Flawless, Drunk In Love, Rocket

Key Videos: Grown Woman, Yoncé