Posts tagged: Glee

Holiday Mode Shopping Music

H&M has become the perfect retail destination prior to any holiday. To be honest, before I met Michelle I never considered the clothes they produced, although it was and continues to be a regular haunt for three of my sisters. However this post is not about the good quality clothes produced by the retailer, instead I am focusing on their fantastic music policy in not just the UK but across Europe. Back in late September 2013 I had to use my memory to record song lyrics that I would then Google later to try and discover the name of the artist and song. I am sure you do this all the time and maybe like me you forget the lyrics or to actual remember to search for them when you are next at the computer screen. Please also note, that it has only been recently that I have had access to Shazam on my HTC One M8. I did have the app installed on my HTC Desire for a brief moment when storage capacity was not an issue. It was actually in early July 2010, almost five years ago that I was in H&M with Michelle in our second city, Birmingham that I heard a song that would stick with me, not just my two week holiday in India but for good. Charice would later even then have a guest spot of a few episodes on my favourite television show Glee.

Let me fast forward to the present, in mid March I was in Bucharest. Travelling light as I always tend to do, I needed to purchase a t-shirt and jumper and we headed to the mall opposite our hotel – The Europa Royale. Being a tourist, you always head for the familiar brands of home and I found myself in H&M, with Priyam and Minal mid afternoon on Friday 13th March and was browsing the Men’s section upstairs and trying to concentrate on the song that was being played. I was not a position to switch on my data plan and use Shazam, so instead noted down some of the lyrics in Google Keep to look up later or even when I go home. I only noted down the following words “Get me out of my mind spiralling”. Somehow, I was able to find out that song was Erica Gibson – Out Of My Mind.

How does this US retailer seem to always find songs that I like? Whether I am in their store in Windsor or further afield, they seem to be on the money with their song choices. Perhaps they have the research that by playing the right songs, the customers will be in the mood to spend even more money. Apart from the trip to H&M in September almost two years ago, on the other two occasion I was either on holiday or just about to go on holiday, so perhaps I was in the mood and mode, reflected so well in the songs.

It’s All Glee To Me

Let me set the record straight once and for all. Glee has always been about the music. We have cared little for the characters and the outrageous plot lines or the person irritating cheerio coach and later principal Sue Sylvester in that particular week’s episode. Having just watched the two hour finale, to not just season six but the entire show, I feel in the right place to finally reflect on a great television show of the past few decades, but perhaps not quite the greatest.

My love affair with Glee started when Michelle’s dear friend Shabana, recommended I watch the show, primarily for the Show Choir tutor – Mr. William Michael Schuester. He had not just an amazing voice but was able to shake it on the dance floor. So in late 2009 and into early 2010 I was watching the first series to catch up with the output on E4. Most important to me was the fact the whole premise of the show was fun. It never took itself too seriously and even when plot lines went a little moody, there was always a quick segway into a usual comic music number. The stand out performances for me in that opening season were from Artie in the single episode Dream A Little Dream. They were Safety Dance and Dream A Little Dream. The Men In Hats number would remain my favourite until the start of season two.

I can appreciate the difficult job when the writers took up the reins of series two. How could they top the debut? The result was a slow start until the sixth episode. Many people may have given up at this point but I was keen to give the show the time it deserved. I knew better things would come along eventually. I was right, the introduction of The Dalton Warblers and in particular Blaine Anderson took Glee to new heights. They would remain at this peak for two good seasons. I tended to blog about Glee only when there was a performance worth highlighting or a particular plot point that deserved to be reviewed. However as I mentioned at the start of this post, music was key to anything. The characters were all larger than life, even Principal Figgins whom will always be a hero of mine!

Feeling a little underwhelmed having just watched the final eighty odd minutes of Glee. Although the ending was perfectly poignant, it felt rather rushed to get all the various strings of narrative tied together for a crowd pleasing finale. The cast and crew had plenty of fun in this sixth and final season, you could tell with some of the flamboyant song choices (even by Glee standards). My criticism of this limited run, will always be the desire to fill in too many stories into a definite amount of screen time. Never was any plot given the justice it so badly craved. Instead it felt like a brainstorm session gone into overdrive with nobody willing to take the decisive decision, so all ideas got thrown into the melting plot, with no care for how they might end up in the end product on the small screen.

Having said all of that, there were still moments of sheer magic. In episode three, entitled Jagged Little Tapestry there was the mashup performance of King’s “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and Morissette’s “Head over Feet”. Let me underline that I have never been a fan of the mashup, particularly on Glee. (Personally these types of songs should be left in the hands of the experts, such as music television channel Q) Jane Hayward’s beautiful voice complemented the tender tone of Mason McCarthy to create the perfect balance for a contemporary love song. The show reminded me what a ground breaking album Alanis had released way back in 1995, with so many hit songs. I had to download Head over Feet again to remember how elegantly written and sung the song is, with lyrics such as “You Ask Me How My Day Was…”

Finding it difficult to summarize a show which I have watched religiously for the past six years, but that never quite got under my skin like Greek or Fringe. (I could go into the reasons why, but they are actually scattered across this blog under the tag glee. Feel free to have a rummage around!) Forty three odd minutes spent (usually) on a Sunday morning to watching the latest happenings in a high school in Ohio, with larger than life academic staff and children with a multitude of issues for a multitude of reasons. Instead I am going to leave the final few words from articles I found online in the past few days. Firstly Daniel Martin in The Guardian, perhaps puts his finger directly on the button of what gave Glee it’s quintessential charm and why at times it was lost with moving the action to New York. Then from the eyes of a fan aged thirteen at the shows premiere, and still a teenager (just) as the show came to a close – Emily Zauzmer with her Ode To Glee from The Harvard Political Review.

Glee has added so extra spark to my life that the show in my eyes, will never be forgotten. Even if I am far from the demographic that should have registered any interest in the Fox show. Without Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel, I would never have gone to watch Wicked in the West End for my 30th birthday. I would have discovered and re-discovered some awesome songs that may otherwise have been forgotten forever. The reality for me, as a fan of 1980s pop was watching Ryan Murphy and team re-work a classic and somehow get the song to fit into the plot. An easier job before they took the elementary option of themed weeks as if this was an episode of The X Factor. Perhaps that was the moment Glee lost some of it’s charm. For me, any show that can launch the career of beautiful Naya Rivera and multi talented Darren Criss (among many more) deserves all the accolades it achieved, even if only at the start. Now while many will put it down to a ‘fad’, I will forever associate the show with fun times I had, watching a comic book musical come to life each week on my television screen.

Sue v Will

Return Of The Mack

Last year I was lost. Dealing with a number of issues rather than sharing with my nearest and dearest, I withdrew into myself. The cost of this was frayed relationships with some of my closest friends and as you can imagine a heavy price to pay! Towards the back end of last year, I slowly made a return to my social circle. Without wanting to put a number on the length of my absence, there is something unique about reconnecting with old friends. Even after a great deal of time apart, catching up four days before Christmas, it was like I had only seen them a few weeks previously. I suppose that is one of the reasons they are my friends.

Now having jumped from 2010 to 2015 in terms of mobile technology I have joined the youth on WhatsApp. While I flirted with the instant message application previously on my work mobile. (After my serious concerns with security had be appeased). However only after loading the app on my beloved HTC One M8 have I fully been unleashed. From sharing New Year greetings via recorded video with my brother-in-law and his girlfriend Katy, to planning a long weekend break in Bucharest with a group of ex Microsoft colleagues! This is just the start of the Teg renaissance – plenty more to come!

Glee returns for the final time (season six for those whom may have lost count) in four sleeps for us this side of the pond. Years ago, when my wife Michelle was still a big fan of the show I made the comment of when they would cover Take On Me, one of my favourite songs of all time! The second season of the show was airing when I went to see Ending On A High Note, the final a-ha concert outside their native Norway at Wembley Arena in late November 2010. Well they saved the best for last with the 1985 worldwide hit to appear as part of the two hour season premiere. I have watched the sneak preview about three times on our television in sheer anticipation. Bring it on people. Plus Suits returns on January 28th. Who said the first month is the most depressing part of the year!

Aural Fixation

My viewing habits are well documented, the majority of my blog posts begin or lead to a moment from the television screen. My wife and I tend to focus on watching television shows during the week and save our movies for the weekend. However, sometimes an old classic is shown on Film4 or ITV2 and you just cannot resist the temptation to watch. A prime example was the 1980s action classic Total Recall last summer. On Wednesday night, we decided to watch Pitch Perfect. I had toyed with the idea of watching at the cinema but as the saying goes, you snooze you lose, so by the time I had actually thought I would go and see it, screenings had stopped. Never mind, I perhaps would have a felt a little short changed if I had spent money on cinema tickets (even on Saver Tuesday at our local Empire).

My expectations were a family unfriendly extended episode of Glee, in a college rather than high school environment. I like a capella music but am not particularly fond of mash-ups (see previous blog post). However, putting that to one side, this movie was great fun! I was unaware that Brittany Snow was one of the leads. An actress I have only come across in the last few years. Although I had heard about the movie John Tucker Must Die I actually had not seen it until it was on television a few years ago. Michelle told me it was worth watching and very funny! Unfortunately there is zero trace of me noting watching the movie sometime in 2011 on Twitter, Facebook or this blog. This was the first time I came across the beautiful actress Brittany Snow. I will sidestep the topic of her amazing body and instead focus my attention on her acting ability which was fantastic but we have to give the caveat that this was just a high school teen movie. The reality is, I should not have been watching this movie so close to my 30th birthday. A few months later, we watched Prom Night as the 2008 remake re-imagining was on Film4. I recall during this time we were going through an Idris Elba phase (Michelle in particular), watching Luther on television (stupidly season two before watching season one a fortnight later). I wonder if he will become the next Bond after Craig?

As a big fan of Glee, I was the ideal audience for Pitch Perfect but my expectations of a gross-out comedy in the vain of Bridesmaids, were quickly put to bed. This was going to be a fun ride and all the performers were actually extremely good singers in their own right, we just had not seen any of them sing before. Rebel Wilson steals the show as Fat Amy! The soundtrack was excellent, particularly some of the older songs from the 1980s. Some of the mashups were good but I was disappointed that some of the songs featured so prominently in the movie were neglected from the album. While the movie is centred around Anna Kendrick’s character, Beca I feel the supporting cast steal the show in many scenes. Character development is much further down the list of priorities but as an audience we tend not to worry about such things. Particularly if the film is entertaining enough! Great fun and highly recommended. Do not just take my word for it, the movie is rated as 80% fresh over on Rotten Tomatoes. Particularly watch out for one of the actors from The Treble Makers who has a close resemblances to my brother-in-law.

Film Title: Pitch Perfect

While reviewing Wikipedia as you do after watching a movie, particularly one you have enjoyed, it was great to see an update (as recently as yesterday) that a sequel has been green lit and Rebel Wilson as actually signed up for another two movies. A movie dedicated to Fat Amy, now that I would pay money to see!

Never As Good, Second Time Around

Have you been watching ITV2 on Thursday nights at 9pm. Purely just the fact that Andi (with an ‘i’) Peters narrates this nostalgic trip down musical memory lane from the turn of the century, should be enough for most people. I am of course referring to The Big Reunion. The broadcasters attempt to bring back a selection of pop groups for a reunion concert at The Hammersmith Apollo. Ultimately the draw for me, was Liberty X. I was a big fan of their music, having watched them get rejected on ITV’s The Popstars (for mediocre Hear’Say) to winning a Brit Award and beyond. My second favourite band (based on number of songs I personally like) would be 5ive. I did not like their initial material but towards the later part of their career, before they hung up their microphones, I enjoyed Keep On Moving and Closer To Me. Finally, out of the other bands, it has to be the Honeyz. If they had released more material (or probably just been around longer regardless of line up changes) they would have been my second favourite. As as aside, I was a passing fan of Solid Harmonie (Mariama Goodman left the band to join the Honeyz) around 1998-1999 when they appeared on the Nickelodeon’s comedy series, Renford Rejects.

My dearest wife made the comment, that nostalgia has a way of tricking us into the illusion that it was better back then, than it really was. In homage to this conversation, I have used her exact phrase as the title of this blog post. Dedicated to the UK pop scene at the turn of the twenty first century. Were we truly spoilt as much as this? I am yet to be convinced but I do recall a period in the late nineties and early noughties when there was a different number one single almost every week!

Perhaps I was a little old to be into this cheesy brand of manufactured popular music, first time around. The reality, which I have no problem admitting, is I till love my pop music. No matter how cheesy and lack of credibility that may come across for a man almost thirty two years of age. It is not the only music genre I listen to it but I enjoy it for what it is. I was looking forward to the show most for the concert at the end, but it was great to hear about all the stories from the band members themselves. Unaware at the time what was truly going on, as we were just fed whatever the record label machine was pumping out onto the airwaves and television screens.

It is the Honeyz that I feel the greatest deal of sympathy. Having signed to Def Jam records, they were on the bring of international stardom. For a member of the act to just walk out, would have left me completely devastated. Now I appreciate everyone will have their own reasons and we have to respect everybody’s desire to do what they feel is right at the time they feel it is right. Turning your back on what could have been an extremely successful recording career in the States and beyond, should not be a decision taken at the drop of a hat. Who knows what they would have achieved as potential rivals to Destiny’s Child.

Pure Pop

Boybands only came onto my musical radar in 1999, when Backstreet Boys released I Want It That Way. Since that point, as a young first year college student, I have never looked back. In 2003, I created an album exclusively of boy-band tracks. I have been listened to it again recently due to the fact that Glee in episode sixteen of season four, “Feud” pitted two of the biggest American boy-bands of all time against one another in a sing off come mash-up. Now, let me set you straight, I have tended to strongly dislike the mash-up concept, particular the songs used in Glee. However, on this occasion, the songs surprising do contrast each other well and we had pop perfection performances from Will Schuester and Finn Hudson. My only complaint is that the song is not long enough. After a difficult few episodes, I believe Glee is back to it’s best. I probably have spoken to soon and the show will once again hit the buffers. We catch the show on Sunday mornings while eating breakfast. It is perhaps the perfect pick me up to get you through the remaining hours of the weekend. In our case, we have to complete our weekly food shop at the supermarket as soon as the show finishes.

Identifying Songs

When I hear a song I do not know, I have to quickly identify it. For a while, when my HTC Desire was brand spanking new (late 2010) I had Shazam installed and would use it at every available opportunity. However, over two years later, my Desire lacks the memory space to hold any useful apps, so I have Shazam installed on my Nexus 7, not the most mobile of devices but it does work perfectly – most of the time.

Let me take you back five weeks, to Friday 25th January. My colleague Harps offered me a lift home in his beloved white BMW 330d cabriolet. (Surprisingly this was the first ever time he was giving me a lift home, even though we have worked together for almost exactly a year!) The journey started off with Luda (who else!) but Harps was switching to various songs on his MP3 CD. It then switched to an Unknown Artist – Unknown Track (I of course, would never have such an epic fail on my audio collection, all my ID3 tags (v1) are fully compiled). The song was instantly catchy and I asked Harps to name the artist, when he could not, so I switched on my tablet and Shazam’d (is that even the adjective?). This song would be the soundtrack to not just my weekend but the rest of the month! I downloaded the song from the internet and then had it burnt onto CD for a drive to Oxford (via Aylesbury on Sunday afternoon). The song, which is of the RnB persuasion rather than HipHop, is called Who Booty (Remix) by John Hart featuring French Montana.

Glee has been a mixed bag of late, at times becoming a parody of itself in this it’s fourth season. However, in places the quality has improved, as the the new characters develop and make bonds with each other. Episode eleven, “Sadie Hawkins” we had very low expectations for, but it actually proved to be quite a good visit to Ohio, not just for bringing in some interesting movement to the plot but also some fantastic songs! The highlight for myself was the cover of TLCs 1999 comeback hit “No Scrubs”. However for my dearest wife, it was the cover of the much more recent Bruno Mars – Locked Out Of Heaven (even if some of the lyrics are risqué for a family friend television show). Straight after the girls performance, a song kicks in on the dance-floor but apart from a few patchy lyrics, there was no way for me to identify the song. The audio volume is just far too low and with characters (Kitty and Puckerman) talking there was no chance of me identifying the song. I noted down a few lyrics after listening a few times and then went over to Google. My searches were rather fruitless but I was not the only person whom had noted the song and wanted to know who the artist was. My first port of call was TV.com, registering and leaving the question as a comment. I had little response, so a few days later I tried entering the few lyrics I could make out into Google and sure enough was taken to a Glee forum. Sure enough, I was not the only person looking for this unidentified song, but so far the trail had run suddenly from hot to cold, as all the suggested songs were not the song in question. We were left thinking that this was an unreleased song, which had been produced specifically for the show. I had lost hope of ever finding out the artist and track name. This was until Thursday morning, when I happened to go back to the forum to check if there had been any updates. There had and the answer to the question that had been on my mind for the past few weeks was finally there on the web page. The artist was Rae, the song was 305 and it featured, in a slightly different mix on the Hop soundtrack. Mystery solved.

It does make me think, how much harder life was before the interweb. How did we ever get the answer to more deep and meaningful questions, rather than some random song played within the context of a high school prom on a television show. Back in June 2005, I had a similar problem with a song I heard on my portable DAB radio. It did not take me that long to find that song, as I actually had the title of the track from the chorus. Do you not just love this connected, always on world we live in, with the possibility of so much at our fingertips? I sure do!

You would class “305” or is it “The 305″, as bubble gum pop, whereas I prefer to use the term pure pop! The lyrics and overall production remind me of the opening track from the Resse Witherspoon movie, Legally Blonde. The track which plays during the opening credits is Perfect Day by Hoku. The 305 even includes the lyrics, “It’s a perfect day” in reference to the older song by Hoku – pure coincidence perhaps! It is almost seven years ago since I was naming checking this romantic comedy, the song and even quoting the lyrics on my blog!

Rae Tweets The 305

One Headline, Why Believe It

Mid to late September is a crucial time for the US television networks. As the nights begin to draw in, the television schedule kicks off again with all of our favourites and some new shows to consider. Glee, now in series four, started a few weeks back and the majority of shows kicked off this week. Thursday 27th September (yesterday) being the season opening night for many shows. This works perfectly for me, as I can then plan to catch the shows on Friday evening and over the course of the weekend.

There was a time in my life I would hide the fact I am a certified Gleek! Instead I am posting online for the world to know that I adore the show and in particular two characters Blaine and Santana (for two very different reasons!). Episode four was screened this week and opened up with my one of my favourite songs of all time. The moment I heard the opening guitar rifts, I jumped up from the sofa and put the volume up. My favourite singer – Blaine Anderson was about to cover Tears For Fears. As my wife would note later, “His voice is just perfect for 1980s songs!”. True.

Blaine

Everybody Wants To Rule The World probably sums up the whole decade in four minutes. In context here though, it takes on a very different meaning. How do you keep yourself busy when your boyfriend lives on the other side of the country? Just when you thought Glee may be losing some of it’s sparkle (some students have now graduated so their stories are fragmented from the remaining New Directions) it comes along and surprises you from the opening minute. Long may the trend continue.

Defying Gravity

During 2010, my wife Michelle was a fan of Glee along with me and we were watching series one at practically the same time. Although I was a few episodes ahead, on my weekly TV diet, she would watch episodes in major blocks. We watched an episode together, “Wheels”, one weekend (I think I may have already seen it) but she was catching up. The episode in question, featuring Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel performing a musical number. Where is this from, I asked! Wicked, my dearest fiancé replied. I had heard of the Broadway musical. In fact many years earlier my Mum had actually gone on a school trip with her school girls into the West End to see the show! I really enjoyed the song and it soon became a personal favourite. Of course Rachel’s version is much better because it was always written with the idea of a female vocalist. Even though in the show, Kurt fumbles his lines on purpose (not hitting the top note) to miss out on a lead role. I did want to see the show myself, Michelle had been lucky enough to see the show early into the West End run with Andy Garcia in a lead role! Would she really want to go and see it again?

My birthday was on the horizon and I asked Michelle that I would like to go for a nice meal and to see the show Wicked. She instantly agreed and went ahead with all the arrangements. I do have an amazing wife! I was looking forward to the show, I knew the plot device, an alternative back story to The Wizard Of Oz. After our meal at The Athenaeum Hotel, we rushed across to Victoria in a Hackney Carriage and made it just in time to take our seats before the show started. In fact, I even had a chance for a call of nature, but heard music being played as I made way back from the toilets to our seats. A fantastic stage, I really like the Art Deco feel of the Victoria Apollo. It was another sold out performance of the smash hit show.

Wicked London

Michelle (who I am sure would have wanted to whisper to me more during the performance) only prodded me moments before the climatic close to Act One and smiled. Defying Gravity is a pure pop song. I love the lyrics, the change in mood, the feeling it invokes within. It means so much and has the possibility of living a life without limits and a boundless energy! I am disappointed I did not see the show performed on the Beeb’s I’ll Do Anything. Although having said that, I have tended to avoid these Graham Norton vehicle, Andrew Lloyd Webber backed talent hunts. Maybe I should dig it up on YouTube? Now having seen the show, do I really want to dampen my memory with a low-par (apparently out of tune performance) from television?

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