My first column which discusses the issues around well-being. Have a read and enjoy
Perhaps one of their most infamous songs around to date, Hey-Ho, is best described as a folk, indie/rock type of song. It is very much an easy listening sort of song and one that you can just as easily sing along to. In terms of the musical structure of the track it is melodic, upbeat and a rather chirpy one. The song is taken from their self-titled debut album back in 2012 and is one of those sorts of tracks where you can never really tire of it no matter how many times you listen to it. The song itself was written by founding members, Wesley Shultz and Jeremy Fraites. As songwriters they are incredibly talented, even with instruments. Since I first heard this track, I immediately liked it, and if you like indie/folk/rock music you’ll see why. An absolute classic to listen to.
The video that accompanies this song features is a fairly basic one and just features members of the band walking down a corridor just singing and dancing. Now what is also interesting is that the hospital itself looks like it has been unused and there is no lighting except for the light pouring through the windows and outdoor light decorations adoring the corridor. During the video they are accompanied by a young woman then by several extras who are dressed similarly to the band themselves. The video ends with the duo giving a small performance to room full of extras whilst clapping in beat with the rhythm.
Literally just a few minutes long and from his second studio album, Beauty Behind The Madness and ironically also the second single by Canadian singer Abel Makkonen Tesfaye better known by his stage-name, The Weeknd, (minus a 3rd E). The Hills has quite a dark, intimate and sinister tone to it which seeps throughout the whole song, to me though, it has a somewhat apocalyptic feel to it. In some ways the darkness in the tone has a type of hook to it where you know that trouble or danger is literally just around the corner. Also, another thing I can’t help but notice is that there is also something quite seductive about the track. One of those where you after listening to the first few seconds you immediately want more. Now this a perfect example of The Weeknd’s talents as an artist as it shows what he is capable of when it comes to song writing.
One of the videos to this song begins with a car that’s been involved in an accident, The Weeknd crawls out of it and walks down a road. The car blows up behind him as he’s walking. He then enters a mansion, goes upstairs where he meets a small group of people where the video then blank. Both videos suit the mood and dark tones of the song as it does refer to deep subject matter in regards to both human behaviour and the human psyche especially as it deals with sex and drug abuse.
For your viewing pleasure.
My latest piece about Mental Health and why it matters everyday
This is an amazing song by Canadian singer and rapper, Grimes, and features vocals by American singer, Hana. Now what is quite intriguing about this duo is that both artists almost appear to sing at the same time, but either way it adds quite a bit of depth in regards to the song. The line, We Appreciate Power goes around like a catchy hook which you can quite easily sing to. I always found something quite dramatic about certain parts of the song in both the way that the music is arranged and combined with the lyrics. Overall this is good song for anyone who’s into electronic music and shows the best qualities of its two female singers. Why Hana and Grimes aren’t better known, or recognised, in the British music scene is beyond me.
I think there’s something just a bit eerie about the lyrics with some of its lines; Neanderthal to human being, Evolution, kill the gene, Biology is superficial, Intelligence is artificial, submit submit submit submit. In a way it’s almost like a sort of futurist referencing in regards to both evolution and A.I
The video to this is definitely worth a look at and has a sort of Tron/Manga look towards it. Neither Hana or Grimes are seen singing in it and the lyrics are seen in text in several languages. Throughout the video both singers are seen in various poses either holding props or holding each other. Also, there’s some CGI shots of earth in-between
Recorded in 1989 and released back the following year in 1990, Lily Was Here is best described in some ways as a timeless masterpiece. It was made by Dave Stewart, one half of the electronic duo Eurythmics, along with Dutch Jazz saxophonist, Candy Dulfer. Now one of the things that is so iconic about it is that it doesn’t have any vocals on it at all, not even a backing vocalist or someone saying a couple of whispering words in the background. Just four minutes and thirty-odd seconds of uninterrupted music by a saxophone and guitar playing together. The song is both smooth, melodic and in some ways somewhat haunting.
The song is to the European/ Dutch film, Lily Was Here (De Kassiere). One of the videos accompanying the song is snippets of small clips of the film which mixed with clips of both Dave Stewart and Candy Dulfer playing the track along with the backing of a pull instrumental band. The film clips that are mixed in with it tell the story of a teenage girl who goes on the run after a traumatic event and then proceeds to go on a series of robberies.
Lily Was Here is one of those songs where, providing you are into jazz and instrumental songs with no vocals you cannot get tired of easily. It is in itself a timeless classic and truly fantastic work by two separate musicians from different musical genres, and one, no doubt where you won’t mind listening to on repeat.
Here’s two for your viewing pleasure, one contains footage of Dave and Candy performing together, have a watch and enjoy
Radio might very well be changing to keep up to date with the times but it needs to remember to ‘listen’ to its listeners
IF you are a fan, or listener, of BBC Radio 2 you will have no doubt heard that the breakfast show that is presented by Zoe Ball has lost several thousand in fact. The number at the last count is reported to be 364,000 weekly listeners bringing the number down to 7.90 million. Down from the previous number of 8.72 million. Now I admit that I’m not a fan of the station, and the breakfast show is one the most important shows on the station as that’s where you get the majority of you listeners during the day. I openly admit that I have listened to the breakfast show on Radio 2 before when the late Terry Wogan was on and as much as I hesitantly thought he was alright I felt that, as a listener I wasn’t being connected with. And don’t get me started on Chris Evans, though I do feel as though I dodged a bullet by rarely listening to him.
Now whether you liked him or not but I was a huge fan of Chris Moyles when he did the breakfast show on BBC Radio 1, and I liked him for a number of reasons: one, he would regularly engage with listeners by having phone-in’s either s part of a shout-out or as part of a feature. Remember carpark catchphrase anyone? It was the one where listeners had to be in their car, Chris would ask a question and listeners would listen by honking their horns. Hence the name of the game.
Also, I just loved the banter, but I always thought that that was where the show was actually succeeding, by actually engaging with the audience. I think in some ways this was where some radio stations, including Radio 2 are more than likely to be failing. I mean by all means you can read out a text that has been sent in by a listener or fan but that doesn’t mean that you are engaging with the people.
Let me give you an example. Some time ago, Greg James, who currently presents the breakfast on Radio 1, and someone who I listen to on a daily basis, once presented his show from a butchers/bakery. Much respect to him as his philosophy behind it was ‘what makes my day more interesting than that of the listener?’, quite right to I thought and he makes a valid point.
What I found that this also showed that the production team were more than willing to take the show on the road and invite members of the public to appear on the show. I remember listening to them when they did this and felt an immediate sense of listener pride and satisfaction as I felt that they realised that it wasn’t solely all about them. If you can cast your mind back to when they did Glastonbury and Radio 1’s Big Weekend they spoke to fans, roadie’s, production crew and people who helped out. They even carried out interviews with the locals.
Now if a radio station and a radio show can do all of that then that alone can demonstrate actual listener engagement. That plus the odd quiz and game-show where listeners are encouraged to phone in and take part. If Radio 2’s breakfast show can do any, or all of that, then they won’t have a problem with not just attracting listeners but keeping them as well.
For me, the way I’ve always seen it, is that the majority of the mornings are about waking up, having breakfast then getting ready to go out to work. And something I’ve always believed that go down well without fail is having a conversation with someone, cracking a few jokes and a bit of harmless banter. And it is true though isn’t it in that it starts the day off on a good note.
At the end of the day it is all very well having a decent presenter who is nice and knows how to talk, but unless they are actually willing to engage with the listener, you might as well just have a pre-recorded show or aim the whole thing for a different age gap. But take notice of all that and you can definitely see why many people are either switching onto other stations or just switching off full-stop. If I was listening to a breakfast show, even I would be expecting to hear a few phone-ins, even if it’s just for laughs, I’d be feeling connected to.
When we come together as one does it show real human kindness, regardless of who we are. So why not do it all the time?
AS a person with Autism I can understand all too well about how it can feel when it comes to isolation and being judged by others. A young girl from Wales called Remi turned five the other day and was left feeling upset when only two of her friends showed up for her birthday party. The young girl asked her mum “Where are all my friends”. Her dad put an invitation up online for anyone to join them. You can imagine their response when many people turned up at the doorstep with their children carrying both cards and gifts.
Now as a person who has a disability, I know all too well how you can be left feeling like an alien when no-one will give you the time of day. I mean for all we know the other families and their children could have either already made prior arrangements or the children were sick. We don’t really know. But the parents invited ten and only two showed up.
Looking at this story it just reminded me of my own experiences growing up in the local community, trying to get along and be accepted by my peers, as well as everyone else.
One of the problems with Autism is being able to form friendships and relationships with people, and that isn’t always easy. Growing up with a disability I felt like an outsider, continuously observing my surroundings and wanting to be liked by my friends. Though unlike Remi, my diagnosis came about at a time when mental health issues simply weren’t spoken about and people with various disabilities were looked upon as weirdos.
Even though there were only meant to be seven spots up for grabs it looked as though a small crowd arrived at the Eden Play Centre where the party was held. The girl’s parents said that they simply overwhelmed by the response that the had from random strangers. Fourteen children dropped by along with their parents. Some stayed for the party whilst other popped round to wish her a happy birthday and left cards and presents for her.
It is stories like this one I find which can show the shame in some people, but it can also show the warmth and kindness in humanity when everyone becomes one. After reading the story it also reminded me of the BBC series, The A-Word.
The A-Word is a programme starring former Dr Who star Christopher Eccleston, Inspector George Gently’s Lee Ingleby and Grantchester’s Morven Christie. Max Vento plays the character of Joe who has Autism.
In the series Joe displays unusual behaviour, shuts himself away from other children and displays problems with communication. Rather like myself, he finds solace in music and possess vast amounts of knowledge of the music in which he listens to. Whenever I look at the character of Joe it does in many ways remind me of what I was like at that age as I loved listening to music and would have happily listened all day long. And also, like the boy, I to found some comfort in listening to music as it gave me some form of distraction from what was happening around me.
Even though there are many people out there who live with various disabilities, be they physical, learning or genetic, we need to remember that they are human beings and deserve love, respect and compassion as much as the next person. Whether you have a child like Remi or not this story should strike a chord with you when it comes to human behaviour and how we treat each other. Now I know that her story, with the help of her parents found its happy ending, but we need to remember what is was that started it in the first place.
Now I know that I am not giving much in the way of a happy story here because the sad truth is that when we talk about people and disability there isn’t always a happy story to tell. As a society we need to deeply look into how we both view and treat people with these sorts of problems as it is one of the numerous ways in which we can help sort out this problem.
Since the party the family have been contacted by the parents of other Autistic children to offer both play dates and support. It is just random acts of kindness like this which show that, as a society, we are capable of showing compassion and if we could do it all the time, we can be prouder of ourselves.
Please follow the link below to view the story
The latest from the In Conversation With… series. Nottingham’s Crosslight
With the introduction of a new character on Sesame Street with parents suffering from addiction could it be a sign that TV is moving forwards when it comes to character development?
A KIDS’ TV favourite, Sesame Street, which I openly admit that I used to watch religiously, also it was a regular Saturday viewing fixture. I absolutely loved it and was already familiar with characters such as Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Big Bird, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Elmo to name but a handful. Oh, the never-ending joy of my childhood weekends.
Recently though they have introduced a new female character called Karli who has become friends with the already established Elmo. Karli is a girl whose mum suffers from drug addiction. On twitter recently there was a touching parent-child moment where Elmo is talking to his dad, Louie, explain to him what addiction is, how it affects people and what happens in order for them to get the help they need.
It’s just under two minutes long and it is just amazing, and quite heart warming to watch as well and when I watched it, I was just so fantastically moved by how they did the scene. It wasn’t at all patronising in the slightest and it was all put together and written and directed in a way in which children would understand without giving them the grittier side of the reality.
Looking back over the past few years on how Sesame Street has developed in terms of character creation has genuinely surprised me. Way back in 2015 the producers took a bold decision to introduce a young female character called Julie, who was portrayed as a four-year-old child. Now what set her apart was that she was the first character on the show who had a learning disability. Basically, Julie was Autistic.
Now I myself have grown up with a learning disability and have known others with similar problems to the character or Julie. Sadly, I have also known some who have it worse then than her. My disability is called Asperger Syndrome which is a mild form of Autism.
As a person with Autism I found it to be both fantastic and ground-breaking that a decision had been taken to introduce such as character. For me, what was just amazing about it was that it would help people to, not just understand the disability community, but to hopefully help society realise that they are just human beings who are just as vulnerable themselves.
Believe me when I say I have experienced plenty of unfair judgments just for being, what others perceive, as ‘different’. To be judged on something that you simply cannot help is heart-breaking enough in itself.
However, going back to the character of Karli. As a child she is a great representation for children whose parents suffer from addiction and need help. In the scene that is currently circling around on social media Elmo asks his dad why Karli’s mum needs to go away for a while. While I was watching the scene, a thought came into my head and I found myself asking who would be taking care of Karli whilst her mother was seeking help for her addiction problems. Hopefully this is something that the programme will cover at some point.
In some ways Sesame Street has changed into something of a hybrid of children’s programme with added elements of a prime-time soap opera. For all those who moan about, complaining how it isn’t right and how you shouldn’t be doing this sort of thing on a children’s TV show just stop for a moment, remember how two of its characters, Eric and Ernie unintentionally became representations of the LGBT+ community? Now there were a lot of people, and no doubt many of the shows’ fans who wanted these two to get together.
Though they didn’t it did show people how two members of the same sex living together was neither immoral or sinful.
As a person myself who is in two minority groups, disability and LGBT+ I rather like how the show is evolving in the way it represents certain characters from minority groups. I mean who know, one day we might have a character who is blind/visually impaired or wheelchair bound. Or we could have one who is ethic minority or a member of a different religion, or from another country. Just think, if they ever did that children could have fun learning another language. Or, if you really wanted to push the boat out here, they could have the introduction of a character who is ethnic minority and wheel-chair bound.
Seriously though Sesame Street, in terms of characters like Julia and Karli I salute you.
For your viewing, please watch.