A Charmed Life


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but say a prayer – pray for the other ones

BandAid30I loved this song the first time around. That it was factually incorrect didn’t matter, I got swept up with the romanticism of it all; that this song was written as a response by someone heartbroken by the sight of millions of children starving to death and the lack of aid from governments around the world; that it brought together the Brit pop stars of the day – to see George Michael, Simon Le Bon and Paul Weller in the same room was such a joy for my eyes to behold; that they were singing about feeding the world.. well Africa, if you follow my blog, you know I love Africa so in every which way it could it pulled at my heart strings and I made sure I got a copy – the vinyl version.

The second time round I wasn’t overly enthused but I still bought a copy, only it was a cassette tape this time. Nor did I rate version 3.0 but kudos for trying to shake it up and yes I went along to my nearest HMV and bought a copy on CD.

This time round, I’m just not interested and even worse it has made me feel old; I don’t know my Pixie Lotts from my Paloma Faiths or Ellie Gouldings, and don’t even get me started on the guys… thank the Lord for a few oldies. And Tracey Emin’s unoriginal artwork is required why?

All the reasons that made me rush to buy original are totally gone save for one point, the most important – it is for charity. I love the idea of a charity single, if you are going to pay for music anyway, knowing your purchase is going to help someone who is in need is always a beautiful bonus, but you should like the song at least a little surely. Plea to Sir Bob ‘as much as I admire your commitment to Africa and totally agree to do something is better than the alternative, next time please please please write a new song; come this Christmas I will be listening to your original version as I have done for the last thirty years.’

If I do buy the new song, it will be via download and then I would have the four versions in four different formats: vinyl, cassette, CD and download. The world has changed much in thirty years and yet people in Africa still need our help. As a global citizen, please remember in this season of giving you can help stop the spread, please donate to an Ebola Outbreak Appeal if you can, I have included some links to make it really easy for you.

For UK: British Red Cross or Oxfam
In NZ – Save the Children
In Aus – Australian Red Cross

or you could buy the new version of the song and make up your own mind.

Sat Nam


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the one true rebelheart

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To know me is to know I love Madonna so no surprise then when I got gifted a copy of newly released book Madonna: Ambition. Music. Style. As a fan it turned out to be a pleasing read; instead of the usual vilifying that goes on where she is concerned, finally here is a writer who is capable of seeing Madonna for the cultural icon she is, hallelujah! This beautifully presented book confirms what I have always known, Madonna is a big fucking deal.

It’s hard to remember a time before Madonna, can you believe Like a Virgin is 30 years old this month. I still remember the moment I fell for Madonna; I was ten years old and at my friend Karen’s house. One of her brothers had music magazines all over his bed and I, being at an age where I was beginning to develop my own music tastes, picked up the latest Smash Hits and there she was on the cover and that was it I was gone for. There was something in her eyes that lured me in and made me want to be a part of her world and I would spend the next thirty years trying to do that. To those close to me it has always looked to be an obsession and at times it probably was but I never saw it that way, to me it has been like having a big sister, someone who has been continually paving the way forward for me.

This is the Madonna that is known to the world. The singer/actress/provocataur/activist who in 1984 writhed around seductively in a wedding dress with her boy toy belt on stage at the inaugural MTV Video Music awards, singing about how falling in love made her feel like a virgin
AND who sang about being motivated by money rather than love (Material Girl)
AND who danced in front of burning crosses and kissed a black Jesus (Like a Prayer)
AND who championed the AIDS cause from the very beginning
AND the very same gal who said she loved crucifixes because there was a naked man on them
AND who told women everywhere to not go for second best  (Express Yourself)
AND who had a music video banned for being too sexually explicit (Justify my Love)
AND whose simulated onstage masturbation during the Blond Ambition tour brought about the wrath of the Catholic Church and The Church of England
AND who created, starred and published a coffee table book of erotic photography called SEX
And all this before the 90s got properly started! A bit risqué for some but not to me – to me these were her best years, my teenage rebelheart had found a kindred spirit. This bold daring woman was going to do it her way and to those of us who came along for the ride – well what can I say – we were the lucky ones.

Madonna has been called irrelevant and to those under thirty who are reaping the spoils of her contribution, most likely without even knowing it – she might be and yet: When Like a Virgin was created, Madonna rebuked the then record industry norm and became the first female artist to call the shots on all decisions relating to her music. She remains the top selling female artist of all time. Her Superbowl halftime performance is the most watched set by a female artist to date and her last tour in 2012 was the highest grossing tour of that year (and it wasn’t even one of her best): But wait there’s more, her realm of influence transcends pop music; she has helped to develop the identity of the modern woman as an independent and sexual being. She has challenged the idea that women be sexual and yet submissive. Her unashamed attitude towards sex has helped to empower women. The ambition and independence she unabashedly displays firmly confirms that this is not just a man’s world. How many artists do you know that have an university course named after them?

This is the Madonna I love: A driven, hardworking, disciplined woman whose work is reflective of her own personal zeitgeist. It has always upset me how easily she gets trashed for absolutely everything she does but that is the way of a true rebelheart I suppose and I wouldn’t it have any other way. #Rebelheart #LivingforLove

Sat Nam


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one proud kiwi

I’m having a little bit of a kiwi moment right now, in the last week Helen Clark has been rumoured to be the forerunner to take over from Ban Ki-Moon as Secretary-General of the United Nations, Lorde won two Grammys and we bet India in the cricket. Rewind a few months back – a kiwi also won the Man Booker Prize (Eleanor Catton for the Luminaries), rewind a wee further back to when we passed legislation to make same sex marriage legal and by last count we still held the Holy Grail that being the Rugby World Cup. Okay we didn’t win the America’s Cup this time but we are still the nation that gave birth to the people behind ‘Top of the Lake’, ‘The Hobbit’ (the movies) and ‘Shrek’ as well as a wealth of talent that can be found all over Australian television and on a global stage.

Can I just say – for a small country in the arse end of nowhere – we certainly make ourselves known.

Love


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…have yourself a merry little christmas, let your heart be light…

sshhh can you hear that… it’s another Christmas jingle, another reason to love this time of year – for the many themed songs. chris3.jpgThe following are my favourite Chrimbo songs and because there are so many that made my shortlist, I have chosen these five solely on how the first few bars make me feel: HAPPY ♥ CHRISTMASSY ♥ NOSTALGIC ♥ COZY ♥ FAMILIAR

Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea (1988): Anticipating Christmas. I love Chris Rea’s husky voice, it gives a Father Christmas feel to the song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uey6VktC5ms

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl (1987): Dancing and drinkingchris4.jpg with friends at Christmas. This song reminds me of ZMFM back in Wellington because come every Christmas they would saturate the airwaves with this song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwHyuraau4Q

chris1.jpgLast Christmas – George Michael (1984): Remaining hopeful at Christmas. I know it is not your usual happy Christmas song but there something about George’s voice and the tune that makes me smile. Its enough to make me forget the actual words of the song. Around the time this song came out was also the time my crush on George Michael was taking hold and it would last a long while (you could say I was in denial for many years). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8gmARGvPlI

Do they know it’s Christmas – Band Aid (1984): Christmas with a consciencehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjQzJAKxTrE Nearly thirty years later this song is still completely relevant today. As I write this, this song has come on the radio.chris2.jpg Doesn’t matter what I am doing, every time I hear this song I will pause to feel the words. I never fail to tear up when Bono’s angelic voice sings ‘well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.‘ I know Christmas is a time to be with loved ones but I also like to remember those who are less fortunate and send a prayer their way. On a lighter note, I love the video as well, a who’s who of 80s Brit pop – a shame David Bowie couldn’t make it. And ignoring the seriousness of the lyrics for a sec, the bells ringing give the song an extra Christmas edge.

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Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano (1970) – Be Merry. In contrast to the two previous songs, this is a happy ditty with a very simple sentiment. It makes me want to dance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMtuVP8Mj4o I will finish on this one… party hats on …  human chain at the ready… all together now, lets sing… ‘I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas, I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart.’

Love

 

 

soundtrack of my life: At Last – Etta James

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music1Years ago I tagged along with my then boyfriend and his mates to the Montreux Jazz Festival, there I got to see among others Beth Orton, Radiohead, Flaming Lips, Natalie Cole and Jamiroquai perform. My stand out moment over the few days I was there in Switzerland, was when Natalie Cole sang ‘At Last.’ I had heard it before but I had never listened to the words and hearing it live literally took my breath away, I remember I cried. Since then I have heard it many times most notably the Etta James version and it is quite simply a beautiful love song. Beautiful enough for Barack Obama to have Beyonce sing at his inauguration. Not quite the type of song that makes you get jiggy with it but you can still dance to it nonetheless… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOKd8dsqqQU

soundtrack of my life: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell

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When I was younger, after school on Fridays I would watch Solid Gold (American version of TOTP). For a while it was a favourite show, as I was developing my own music tastes and this show was one of the few forums for new music that was available (this being in Wellington, NZ and before pay tv and the internet) AND I fancied myself a Solid Gold dancer, so there I would be prancing around the living room AND better yet if I knew the song, out would come the hairbrush and I would be belting out the song as if I were the artist myself. You have to feel sorry for my loved ones having to suffer through this because I cannot hold a tune. bloghairbrush.jpgIn fact my singing is so bad that when as we got older, my little brother (the musically gifted one out of the two of us) would actually threaten me with physical harm if I didn’t shut up. Didn’t work though, to this day I still sing away if I like a tune wherever I am (it’s like that saying ‘sing, like there’s no one listening’ was written just for me ;-)). Anyway I digress… my ultimate hairbrush song is ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.’ I love the pairing of Marvin and Tammi (they created so many gems then left us way too soon) and I also love the backing music of The Funk Brothers, that Motown sound gets me going every time…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xz-UvQYAmbg


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what’s your guilty pleasure?

I was having a catch up with some girlfriends the other day and they started talking about their guilty pleasures some were expected like watching porn, shopping online, sleeping in but some were just weird. Then I got to thinking about my guilty pleasures and realised some of mine were probably just as questionable – I will let you be the judge:

♠I love dancing in my underwear and I have even recorded myself doing it – I cannot believe I just admitted this but there you have it. I’m not sure how this came about except I love dancing around anyway and I happen to do a lot of it while I am getting ready in the morning.

♠My best friend always looks amazing in pictures, she perfected her pose years ago. I, on the other hand, am sad to say that at thirty-nine years of age, I have not managed to capture mine so I have been known to spend time in front of a mirror practicing my perfect pose which I’m beginning to believe I might not actually possess.

♠Then there is music, I love music, who doesn’t right? Well as much as I love it I also have this bad habit of over killing a song by playing it over and over till it gets to the point whereby separation is required between me and said song for a very long time. Except when it comes to The Carpenters, you know in A Clockwork Orange when Alex is subjected to listening to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony over and over, well you could do that to me with The Carpenters and I would be in heaven. Sometimes after a hard day you just want to chill and/or find your happy place and that is The Carpenters for me.

♠When asked the question who is the most sexy male actor, most would answer a younger actor but not I. I think older male actors are so much hotter. By older I mean the gray haired variety… Richard Gere, Tom Skerritt, David Bowie, Richard Chamberlain, George Clooney (who only just squeezes in on account of his old world glamour) and my ultimate favourite Jack Nicholson…before you start to questioning my sanity… maybe not these days but there is a je ne sais quoi about this man that made him sexy in years gone by, that twinkle in his eye… that cheeky grin…something, you just know you would have a good time with him, if you know what I mean 😉

♠Usually any kind of reality show gives me a violent gut reaction but I have to admit I do like a little Made in Chelsea if only because it feels like I’m watching a train crash and not able to tear myself away from it. I still cannot believe that it is not scripted even just a little; Spencer has to be the biggest tool on TV, his parents much be so proud! Staying with television I have to give Gilmore Girls a mention, my ultimate favourite show ever. I love the mother/daughter dynamic and find it so stylishly written with quick witty dialogue and acerbic humour, if someone went into my head and deciphered the cacophony that is there you would come up with Gilmore Girls that is how much this show resonates with me.

♠I have coveted a Clarisonic Mia for a while now but I have promised myself not to get one until I find an agent for my book in the meantime I have to admit to looking it up online at least once a week imagining myself using it, I do it under the pretense of motivating myself to actually market myself but really I just like watching the demonstrations.

♠This one might upset my nearest and dearest but I am terrible at receiving gifts and quite frankly if you are my nearest and dearest you would know that already. I generally buy what I want when I want it (save for the fabulous Clarisonic Mia) therefore I never need for anything. So yes I have been known to find new homes for gifts I have been given. I see pleasure in regifting especially when I know the recipient will get much better use out of the gift than I would. If you think about it what I am actually doing is being responsible in my recycling endeavours, much better for the environment surely?

Love

soundtrack of my life: Unfinished Sympathy – Massive Attack

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I was at a club recently and this song came on (thank you djjit) and it blew me away just like it does every time I hear it. There are so many elements to this song that make it a masterpiece that when I decided to write about it, words kept on spilling out of me; moving, harmonious, perfectly crafted, ethereal… the following is my attempt to make sense of why I believe this song is truly magnificent.

Firstly and maybe this is because I was as far away as I possibly could be but to me this song represented the London music/club scene at the time (and yes I know Massive are not from London but Bristol – London was pretty much same same to a seventeen year old stuck in New Zealand AND it would be years before I discovered the video was shot in LA by an Australian).  I so wanted to be in London at a club dancing to this song but that wouldn’t happen for another ten years (this says much about the timeless quality of the song in that it is still a mainstay in the club scene years after it was first released).

Then there is the song itself: the haunting musical arrangement (the classical alongside the electronic), the soulful voice of Shara Nelson and the poignant lyrics ‘Like a soul without a mind, In a body without a heart, I’m missing every part (you can feel the longing in those words, it is completely relatable) all layer together to make an emotional almost ethereal melody which is unusual to say for a dance song and even more so for an electronic dance song. They got it exactly right. Not only has this song stood the test of time, it is consistently listed on the top ten for the best song of all time by musos and I concur… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWmrfgj0MZI

soundtrack of my life: Everybody In The Place – The Prodigy

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music7I first saw The Prodigy in ’97 at Big Day Out (southern hemisphere’s attempt at a music festival). I remember they weren’t on the main stage so my friend and I had to trek all the way to where they were playing and then push our way to the front so we had very little time to stand around before they came on. And that they did and to this day the energy of that performance blows me away. I wish I could have bottled that energy to bring out on special occasions. Instead I am left with the memory of that epic performance.

At that time I had never experienced anything like it – the entire set they played had me moving and no I was not under any chemical influence – it was purely them at high voltage. I have seen them since and understandably it hasn’t been the same: they have got older, line ups have changed; but in the ’90s maybe early ’00s The Prodigy was it for me. Another reason for me to fall in love with England. This song reminds me of that moment in time in ’97… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY87o9IZXWg just try not moving when you listen to it.