Has Sia Gone Too Far?

Sia’s Elastic Heart music video is the latest controversy to hit the music world. Recieving over 5 million views in the first 24 hours, this latest single is classy pop magic, filled with head flicks, passion and electronic key changes. Classic Sia. The music video features Maddie Ziegler, the same extraordinary girl from Chandelier. However, it also has a guest appearance from Shia LaBeouf. Both are clad in nude coloured skin tight leotards and dance around a large cage, similarly to the aforementioned Chandelier. People saw this and they immediately assumed a promotion of pedophilia.

In my opinion, Sia, a world renowned and critically acclaimed pop queen, would not intentionally promote anything of this nature. Her new hidden identity has allowed her to express herself in her music in a far better, and far freer way. You can practically hear her heart pounding out of her chest in every beat, and she clearly carries out her work with the up most passion and conviction, and in turn I would imagine she expects some respect, as an artist if not as a person. As for this music video, it is not about a relationship, not a sexual one anyway. Sia predicted, wisely as always, that there would be a backlash towards the video. She hasn’t been controversial for the sake of controversy, she has employed two extremely talented individuals to express her music. There’s a number of people who have interpreted this video as a presentation of Sia’s relationship with her father, which is valid from an artistic perspective, but she has stated specifically that it is not about her father, and these interpretations do somewhat perpetuate the abuse element of the piece.

The video is about Sia. It is about her mentality and ‘two warring Sia states’. Whether it is a present and past Sia, a disturbed and sane Sia, or an uncontrollable and stable Sia we may never know, she may never reveal this to us, but what she has told should be respected. I just can’t help but feel a little disappointed in these comments. From watching the video you can see that this beautiful piece of dance, theatre, art has a deep rooted emotional centre and the elegant, modern choreography pushes all the right boundaries. Judging this video as sexual and abusive is crude and is a discredit to Sia, Maddie and Shia. They have all worked incredibly hard on this, especially Maddie, a girl of only twelve and the flawless accuracy and passion which seeps through the screen is what people should pay attention to. If you see this video as supporting pedophilia then you need to check yourself and realise that it’s probably you that needs to reassert their view of music, people and society, not Sia.

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My Top Albums of 2014

This is All Yours – Alt J

Alt J’s eagerly awaited second album ‘This Is All Yours’ dropped in late September, followed by a national tour and worldwide appearances. The progression from their last album is clear to see, but for me, the singles shone brightest. Hunger of the Pine, Left Hand Free, and my personal favourite, Every Other Freckle are perfectly paced, atmospheric tracks and are a credit to the band. However this is not to dismiss the other tracks. Beautifully delicate melodies, such as in Garden of England and Bloodflood II sparkle wonderfully and the charming duet in Warm Foothills add to the ambiance of the album. ‘This Is All Yours’ should be listened to as one piece of music. The electronic tones melt into each other and the gentle ebb and flow of vocals washes over you. It’s all part of Alt-J’s genius musical talent, and their ability to entice and submerge a listener into their dreamlike, slow motion lives.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Every Other Freckle
  • Bloodflood II
  • Hunger of the Pine

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Wanted on Voyage – George Ezra

Injected with life and spontaneity, Ezra’s debut crackles with a folk pop style which addicts even the most cynical of critics. Influenced by his travels and idols like Ed Sheeran, Tom Odell and Mumford and Sons, ‘Wanted on Voyage’ managed to capture my interest and, somewhat unexpectedly, hold it for a whole year. Ezra exploded in 2014, and what with performing at Glastonbury, bringing out his first album and touring he has managed to stick to his roots and stay down to earth. This humbling LP is joyful and warms the soul.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Blame It On Me
  • Listen to the Man
  • Leaving It Up To You

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St. Vincent – St. Vincent

Quirky lyrics and a bold sound gratify the mind and ears in St. Vincent’s self titled LP. Sweeping an extraordinary number of accolades, nominated for a Grammy and NME awards, and a shower of five star reviews, this LP took over 2014 in a big way. Still seemingly remaining under the radar, Annie Clark’s alternative electronic rock has really made an impact in the critics world and justifiably. She weaves and interconnects synth sounds, harmonies and heavy basslines with the epitome of sophistication and class. In this vein, it seems suitable that she sits on a pink throne on her latest album cover, claiming her place as queen.

Favourite Tracks:

  • Prince Johnny
  • Digital Witness
  • Rattlesnake

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The 1975 – Medicine

The 1975, an indie pop band from Manchester, have produced a single with a radical change of pace compared to previous hit singles like ‘Chocolate’, ‘The City’ and ‘Sex’. This new song, ‘Medicine’ is essentially a ballad, designed to make young hard core female fan’s hearts melt slowly and painfully. I really love the song and it is a call back to their early EPs which included songs like ‘You’ and ‘So Far (It’s Alright)’ which are fairly similar to this new one. However, I keep expecting a crescendo and a rhythmic drum beat to kick in, leading the final 40 seconds into a dramatic key change, making the single a little more exciting and invigorating. This doesn’t happen. Before you know it the melancholic, infrequent vocals have come to an end and you are left needing to repeat the song, wondering if there is something you missed.

Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful song which could be timeless, and clearly has a lot of heartfelt meaning, but I personally don’t see why they chose this particular song to introduce their second album – it could turn away a large part of their fan base who are there for the upbeat, interesting pop songs which defined the last album in terms of singles. In my opinion, a band should put out music first and foremost for themselves, and the 1975 have done this, so in that sense it was a good decision and they obviously felt strongly about sharing this song with their fans. I really love the lyrics because although they’re simple they evoke a lot of emotion and they don’t overpower the music, but rather blend into the song as another layer, like a bass guitar. The beat is solid and the melody is catchy in its own way. Definitely check it out and form your own opinion.

Julian Casablancas+The Voidz – Human Sadness

Aggressive melancholy is the first thing which comes to mind upon hearing this epic, distorted 11 minute single from Julian Casablancas’ new project. The Strokes’ front man, who has an infamous knack for writing catchy and short songs, presented his fans with this deeply emotional and drawn out song, proving to them and to everyone else that he is one of the best songwriters of this generation. With the clearly painful and personal lyrics, this song has a way of connecting with every single person who hears it, which is an extremely rare and incredible thing to achieve. These lyrics are painfully poetic and I have not felt anywhere near the same level of grief and pain needed to try and understand or analyze them, I just know that they are beautiful and distressing.

This song is a journey. A twisted, brutal, depression-driven journey which has an ironic and troubled beauty to it. Take, for example, the fact that a clear and catchy riff can be heard throughout the song. It contrasts completely with the atmosphere and meaning of the song but it sounds amazing and gives the feeling of a warped and crazed pop song. There are clear stages and sections to this piece which are highlighted by explosive guitars and separated by varying crescendos. Casablancas wanted to use this song as way of delivering a message, portraying emotional torment and baring his soul. At least that is the way I see it.

Buy ‘Human Sadness’ and their new album ‘Tyranny’ here 

 

“Human Sadness” – Lyrics

Put money in my hand
And I will do the things you want me to.

Vanity, overriding wisdom,
Usually common sense.

Should I delete it,
You said you’d read it
You promised you would never ruin it with sequels,

I wake for you, on and on

Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field,
I will be meeting you there.

The moon’s a skull, I think it’s grinning
The room is full of people now I think it’s spinning

Wanted you, didn’t ask for nothing.
Wait for you, on and on

And I don’t need your tie, I don’t need to, tired of saying it.
We don’t need more talk, don’t empty out your canteen on the desert floor.
Ahhh, it’s all my fault

Never wanna spell it out,
I just want to say that it is all my fault,
I could never spit it out,
I don’t wanna fix your tie.

Never want to say we’re sad,
Thankful that we got some chance,
I know you won’t get back your time,
I wish that you could take it back.

Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field,
I will be meeting you there.

He wanted it more than me, I suppose
I was in a rush to wait in a line.
Now I hear echoes of my old self,
This is not the way to be.
All at once,
I lost my way.

Is it not true, the things that we did?
Come here at once and look what they did
Come here shut down and tune in tonite,
Learn the words that they teach you without you realizing it
Come here sit down and watch some TV

Mine all mine, wait your turn,
Cross my cross, slice his hand,
Not your son, not your friend, not your enemy.

I rely on the little things to get me by,
Conscience says, “I’m okay”,
You don’t hear what they say.
“He’s not my son, search his home”
Off to war,
It’s time to go hide inside.

Soft skin,
Weak chin,
Just walk me thru it, tell me what to do I’ll do

Hurry hurry, that’s my baby
Ohh, do what you can.

All the time – he waits for me.
And now we talk from time to time,

Hits you on the head when nobody’s there,
Then he says, “come here could you fix my tie?”

It’s never gonna be,
To be is not the way to be.

Show me where to go, don’t get angry so quickly,
Fuck depression.

Beyond all ideas of right and wrong there is a field,
I will be meeting you there

Understanding is more important than love,
If not money will always trump justice

All is lost,
I’ll find my way.
So I say,
To be is not to be.
To be is not the way to be.

BAIO – On&On&On&On

Tropical beach vibes and subdued cool radiates from this new track by BAIO of Vampire Weekend. ‘On&On&On&On’ may have a lot of the similar African influences and infamous summer riffs of early Vampire Weekend, however it is definitely a step in a different direction for bassist Chris Baio.

I love this track and although summer is coming to an end, ‘On&On&On&On’ feels like it could extend the heat and energy of those few months for the whole year round. Along with notably subtle and feminine vocals, the repeated beats and distorted keyboard sounds add to the enticing nature of this track and give it an undeniable edge over my other favourite DJ tunes. A deep, brass sounding bass line contrasts with the smooth finger clicking and simple but melodic notes to create a sound which was just made to be heard in a hammock or on a sun lounger. It’s interesting enough to put on repeat and exciting enough to tweet about more than once. I would highly recommend buying the new EP; you won’t regret it.

Garden City Movement

Garden City Movement are an electronic chillwave trio based in Germany and Israel. Having seen their music video for ‘Move On’ which is beautiful and brave, I was intrigued to find out more. Although their following is fairly small, the fans are dedicated, and this band are set for huge things. So far they have released two EPs; ‘Bengali Cinema’ and ‘Entertainment’. Both are interesting, fresh and intuitive. These chilled, synth driven, electronic tracks are wonderfully immersive and totally addictive. The combination of cultures is very interesting, and something worth exploring more for these guys. Garden City Movement have a great balance of delicate and subtle vocals combined with repetitive beats, which echo that of very popular bands like Clean Bandit and Gorgon City. Pay attention to these guys – big things are coming their way; I can guarantee it.

My favourite track is ‘Move On’, mainly because I can’t stop listening to it. I love the effortlessness of the lyrics and the clear images throughout the track. It’s memorable, sexy and a genuinely good song. Here are a couple of my favourite stills from the video

 

Have Alt-J Become Too Commercial?

Yesterday, Alt-J released their second music video for their upcoming album. ‘Left Hand Free’ already had controversy surrounding it after claims that the band wrote the song in 15 minutes after their record label told them they needed to write a more catchy song which could be played on the radio. Alt-J have of course denied this claim, but it was not hard to convince people of the rumour, when the song was so different and mainstream to anything Alt-J have ever done before. Therefore, when the video was released, it seemed that it might help some of the fans understand the reasoning behind the single.

 

However, many fans have been saying that Alt-J have lost their creativity and innovation after this video was released. The music video depicts a typical summer day in southern USA, with young people having fun and presenting the perfect summer. It undoubtedly looks like a vapid advertisement for beer or a holiday and disappointed a lot of people. It also undeniable however, that it fits exactly with the song and sparks the same discussions. This video clearly reflects how the song is typical and fairly meaningless, mirroring popular culture. Alt-J haven’t lost their creativity, they are making a comment about the music business and also just having a bit of fun. Interestingly, Alt-J placed a ‘1’ after the title of this video. It may have just been a mistake, but it could also mean this video is the first of many.

This band were clever to not lose their fan base by first releasing ‘Hunger of the Pine’ which was still a new direction, but it stuck to their old methods and sound. The video for ‘Hunger of the Pine’ is again an accurate reflection of the song.

 

It is simple, and puts across a clear image to it’s audience. The complexity of the song and video is obvious, but it is presented in an intelligent and enjoyable way. ‘Hunger of the Pine’ proves that Alt-J still deeply care about their music, purpose and the meaning behind these tracks. Of course Alt-J haven’t become too commercial. They are doing things how the want, the way they want and yes, they may lose fans, but they will also gain new ones as well.