Madonna “Madame X” – Review

Madame X is a dog’s dinner, but delicious!

Annoyingly, Madonna somehow managed to become a joke, at least within my circle of friends. That is not because of her age as many would assume, but her rather desperate efforts to follow the trends and appear “on top of the music world”.

The last few albums from Madge could be described as good pop, but nothing groundbreaking. As mentioned before, Madonna started following the trends (often poorly) instead of setting them. That is not the case with Madame X, her best album in over a decade. To be honest, I felt Madonna would start making deeper material as soon as I heard she relocated to Portugal. She’s a very influence-sensitive artist, with effective ability of absorbing the unknown into the zeitgeist. The album includes elements of Latino, African instruments, acoustic sounds, bits of disco, singing in Portuguese and intentional over use of vocoder (often annoying).

Medellin is a great lead single and album opener. I’m a fan of the composition, the combination of dreamy verses with catchy Latino Pop hooks. Bohemian Rhapsody-structured Dark Ballet is a real mess. What starts as a piano ballad later turns into a Daft Punky, vocodery, psychedelic goodnight story. Lyrically starts strong, ends a bit cringeworthy (“Can’t you see outside of your Supreme hoodie?”)

God Control isn’t much different in terms of structure. Gun control-related lyrics sang monotonously with a choir(the monks from Met Gala and Eurovision?”) in the background later transform into a strange Daft Punk extravaganza. Then we have Future, in my personal opinion the worst track on the album but it might be the matter of me highly disliking both Quavo and reggae music. Batuka offers crazy percussion and ends beautifully with a violin outro.

Killers who are partying is yet another story. From my observation, fans love this kind of Madonna – a humanitarian indie acoustic witch. Most critics do hate it though. I will be gay if the gay are burnt, I will be Africa if Africa is shot down – Madge lists everyone she feels sorry for with a very interesting instrumentation. I don’t care, I love it! Crave would be great without Swae Lee and his moaning. The song itself is an interesting combination of acoustic guitar and a beat. Crazy isn’t very interesting lyrically but it’s a good introduction to Come Alive. Acoustic percussion, melted strings in the background and subtle vocals make a good combination yet again.

If you’re blessed with a deluxe edition, you can listen to Extreme Occident which includes a lovely melody with vulnerable vocals and oriental instruments. Faz Gostoso is a true bop with one of the catchiest hooks on the album. Rapper Anitta is featured on this godly bop and together with Madonna created one of the best up tempo songs in Madonna’s discography.

Bitch I’m Loca is a second collaboration with Maluma. Must be a pleasant listen for fans of this type of music, however its location on the track list confuses me as the song doesn’t hold as strong artistic value as the ones behind and after it. I don’t search I find could easily be played in Studio 54. With an addictive beat, disco era-inspired dance track reminds me a bit of I Feel Love by Donna Summer and something you could hear in London’s Vauxhall at 6 am, high on MDMA, drinking Stella in a smoking area. And this kind of Madonna I want to listen to.

A few words about Eurovision 2019

We all know what Eurovision is like – sparkly, camp, colourful, over the top competition in which (mostly) European countries compete with each other to win a trophy that gives the winner nothing but fame (by which I understand being remembered in competition’s history).

The extravagant contest is responsible for introducing some really good recording artists to the general public (us!), whether it’s the A class ABBA in the 1970s or artists-phenomenons such as Conchita Wurst, Salvador Sobral or Netta.

I’m not here to tell the history of the contest or any funny anecdotes(15 things you didn’t know about Eurovision Song Contest!) but to mention few things that caught my attention while watching this year’s circuses (with bread).

Netta from Israel won the contest last year. Her success, surrounded with an aura of controversy, resulted in a dozens of news publications around the world. She was accused of cultural appropriation, banal composition and lyrics and (that’s actually ridiculous in this day and age) her weight. The artist herself stated her song “Toy” was inspired by #MeToo movement. I personally enjoyed it to the fullest and felt incredibly happy when she won. Toy is definitely one of the best songs in Eurovision history, in my opinion.

Israel’s conflict with Palestine is one of the reasons why a lot of (important) people decided to boycott this year’s Eurovision.

Hatari, who represented Iceland this year, held a Palestinian flag in front of the cameras. They got booed by the people in the arena.

Surprise, surprise! It didn’t stop Israel from creating an amazing show, filled with self promotion, guest performances and… scandals, of course!

This year’s contestants couldn’t get close to last year’s artists in terms of performance and compositions, but the competition was still very interesting and some songs are, without a doubt, worth listening to on streaming platforms.

Young gentleman Mahmood was definitely my favourite performance of the night. Introduced by Graham Norton as an internet sensation, with over 83 million views of his video, the young artist didn’t disappoint. He delivered a magnetic performance of a great, modern, smartly produced song called “Soldi”. He brought sexy back just like Justin Timberlake did in 2006. Australian entry sounded like Kate Bush impersonation and looked like college student’s experiments with green screen, but still managed to sound weirdly interesting.

UK’s Michael Rice came last, which is harsh, but I think anyone who wins a singing competition (Rice won a show called All Together Now) and spends the money on opening a waffle and crepe place in his home town deserves the worst in the music industry after that. And, of course, there is Brexit.

Spanish guy was really cute and staging was amazing. He came last, together with Michael Rice, but definitely deserved better.

And of course – there’s Iceland. Holding a Palestinian flag wasn’t the only thing they did that caused controversy that night. There was also their Rammstein inspired, BDSM performance. Thank God no one ended up being penetrated by a dildo. On a serious note, I do think it takes massive balls to do what they did…. (Palestinian flag in Israel, not the performance).

Oh, and there was Madonna. Pop music’s legendary superstar appeared as a special guest to promote her new album Madame X. Wearing her signature (for this era) eyepatch and accompanied by Quavo she performed, in my opinion, the worst single in her career so far, with ridiculous staging and disappointing vocals during “Like a prayer”.

Perhaps, we should just stick to Duncan Laurence from Netherlands who won this year. I’ve listened to his song at least five times while writing this and I still don’t remember any of it. It sounds a bit like Heal by Tom Odell.

For now – good morning Europe and good night Australia!

Lizzo: “Cuz I love you”

This Detroit-born flute-handling singer-songwriter and her major label debut “Cuz I love you” cuzed a little stir in the music industry due to the loud, body positive image and often genreless (technically confusing?) tunes. Her newest album is full of musical influences, energetic beats and obviously confident phrases – sung, rapped, yelled…

The record opens with a title track. Cuz I love you, according to Lizzo herself is a big, brassy, orchestral moment. Indeed, it does sound like some show-opening, Beyoncé-inspired, monumental high school drama audition. Soulful, powerful vocals appear now and again, in between of rappy verses. As the record ends with its powerful and dramatic title verse, another song starts. Like a girl is a pleasant, entertaining and sweetly naive anthem, with lyrics referencing Serena Williams and personal independence. That could have been one of the modern feminist anthems. Well, I think Kesha did it better a couple years ago on her “Rainbow” album.

Juice, the lead single off the album, which to me sounds Motown inspired(in a very lovely way!) is the quintessence of Lizzo’s style(both musically and lyrically) and the best song on the record. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, don’t say it cuz I know I’m cute!” – even the first few seconds of this bop prove the banger-ability this girl has and the reason why she finally got signed to Atlantic Records. Such a shame that the next track, Soulmate, is a totally predictable, tired to death bore full of industry tricks. Jerome shows the amazing vocal ability of the singer, and despite sounding a bit like Rihanna’s Love on the brain and using the “open letter to the guy who hurt me” formula is still one of my favourites. Cry Baby and Tempo are also worth listening. The first one has a great instrumental and first class, heartfelt, vintage vocal performance. The second one, with a instrumentally confused intro, is a duet with Missy Elliot and a proper ping pong, mind fuck piece. Exactly how I feel is a squeaky collab with Gucci Mane, Better in color shows off her true ones, with a production again being a mix of vocal-showing retro and “these today’s rappers” style. After brilliantly written Heaven Help Me, the album ends with a stripped down Lingerie.

Lizzo is definitely a desperately needed figure in today’s music, and a great inspiration for artists who don’t want to be locked inside a one genre drawer, despite the suggestions of the record label. Hopefully, for Lizzo it’s a beginning of something big. Is the album worth listening? Yes. Is it going to be iconic one day? No.

The Glasgow School of Art fashion show

The Glasgow School of Art is without a doubt one of the most renowned and respected university-level institutions for future creatives in the country. It seems to be impossible to even read an article or watch a video about the city that wouldn’t include some information about the school. The students usually describe the place as a free, creative space, that despite being hard to get into, motivates the students to express their ideas and provides them with all the required skills. In 2017 documentary created by i-D Magazine, one of the Fashion and Textile students said:“I think it did have a reputation of, maybe perhaps, a rough area, but I feel like creativity has always lived in Glasgow”.

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Recently I was provided with a chance to attend their annual fashion show. As a person deeply interested in fashion, not only from the perspective of business and media but also from its often forgotten niche and artistic side, I felt excited to finally see the real outcome of students’ work. I arrived at the venue quite early, had a quick look at the posters and leaflets laying everywhere around me, then had a nice quick chat with two students in the gender-neutral toilets.“My friend worked so hard for this”, one of them told me.

The show, which seemed like it was almost sold-out, started with a quick presentation of the second year students and the theme of White Shirt/Black Silhouette. In total, twelve students presented their work which for me concentrated on deconstruction and playing with shapes. It’s a very popular approach to fashion design in art schools. After a short presentation of second-year students, over thirty designers of third-year Fashion and Textiles presented three outfits each. The work of each of them was categorized as either Embroidery, Fashion, Print, Knit or Weave. It wasn’t hard to notice the source of inspiration in some of the work presented that day. Print students impressed me the most, with some of the designs including a true WOW-factor. Colorful and vibrant outfits, simple in their form, like a set of total-printed shorts and a shirt put together with a pair of plain white trainers reminded me of designers like Jeremy Scott from the brand Moschino or current things we can see at Prada.

After the show, I caught up with one of the students – Kelly Sloan, whose work concentrated on Embroidery at its very best. After Kelly told me she came to Glasgow School of Art straight from college, I finally realised the phenomenon of the famous school. A goal-focused, hard-working environment of people who are being taught how to embrace their creative visions by staying true to themselves.“For me, I definitely think it’s colour and texture that inspires me the most”Kelly told me after the show.“Whether it being on a building or within a random object, I always seem to be drawn to these elements. These elements also help me develop my further as I begin to look closely and focus in of these different qualities”.

As I have mentioned before, different influences and designers of inspiration could be noticed within designers work. It’s important to know your path and direction at the beginning of any creative career. I asked Kelly to tell me a bit about artists and designers that inspired her designs.“I am inspired by different designers for each project I’m presented with. But if we’re talking fashion show, then avant-garde was a huge inspiration as my goal was to showcase large and intense fashion pieces. Viktor & Rolf were also a prominent inspiration for my fashion show garments as I’m a huge fan of the scale and silhouette of their collections.”

In the i-D Magazine documentary about Glasgow which I mentioned above, we can hear about the hard-working environment and amount of work students of the school need to put in to finish all the required tasks. I decided to ask Kelly about this as well.“[The Glasgow School of Art is] Extremely hard working!”she told me without hesitation.“As I went straight into third year at GSA with a direct entry from college, I wasn’t aware of the workload at The School of Art and the thing that’s struck me the most was the work ethic. Most days you’re in from 10 AM until 10 PM and that’s just the complete norm for everyone to be working those hours in order to get stuff done.”

There is no doubt that for many people, fashion is still seen as wearing crazy outfits on a catwalk and selling underdesigned garments for way too much money. I finished my conversation with Kelly by asking her:What would you like the readers to know about creating a collection and putting on a fashion show? Just so they can understand your position better…”.After a short while, Kelly replied:“Fashion industry is so huge that I think it can be difficult for designers to get their name out there and be known [by a larger audience]. I think my biggest goal is for my work to be noticed and recognized for its style, really just to be successful with selling my creations to a large crowd and be able to make a living from something I love to do so much.”

Follow Kelly Sloan on Instagram – @sloankel and her portfolio account @ksloantextiles

What’s going to happen to Karl Lagerfeld’s cat?

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Source: Getty Images/ P. Kovarik

The passing of Karl Lagerfeld has left everyone interested in high fashion shocked. “What’s gonna happen to Chanel and Fendi?” – people are asking on social media. There is no doubt that Lagerfeld changed the world of fashion, introducing some of the most controversial ideas at the same time staying loyal to Gabrielle Chanel’s legacy. Millions of people are still sharing their tributes on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, even though there’s plenty of people for whom paying tributes to Lagerfeld is an example of bad taste.

Not many people know that Karl Lagerfeldt, born in Hamburg, Germany in 1933, had dropped the “t” from his last name to make it sound more commercial. He taught himself English and French(which must have been hard in the era with no iPhones and internet), left home as a teenager and shortly after started working for Balmain and Chloe. Two brands that the legendary designer has always been most associated with are fashion giants Fendi and Chanel. In the high fashion world, we can often see big brands dropping their creative directors and replacing them(Alexander Wang only lasted, like, 2 years at Balenciaga and Raf Simons despite good reception about the same in Calvin Klein, just to give an example).*  That’s why I think it’s impressive that Karl had stayed at Fendi for almost 55 years. His career at Chanel lasted almost 37 years.

I woke up in the morning and got a notification from the BBC News app. I went on Instagram and saw the black and white portrait of Karl posted by Vogue. Shortly after my friends started posting as well. It seemed like everyone was heartbroken. That’s the cheap, superficial aura of respect that dominates social media after the passing of any famous person. I have to admit, it made me feel a bit sad too. I care about the fashion industry and I’m aware of the level of sympathy a lot of stars shared for him, despite the controversy and criticism surrounding his persona(accusations of racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, popularising eating disorders and much more).

Usually, after someone’s passing our thoughts are with their loved ones. Karl Lagerfeld who died at the age of 85 wasn’t married or even in a publicly confirmed relationship with another… human person.

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Choupette – Lagerfeld’s biggest love – was a gift from Baptiste Giabiconi, Lagerfeld’s favourite model(Karl made him the male face of all three brands he designed for – Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld). Believe it or not, the charismatic kitten quickly became a celebrity – starting with a photo shoot for V Magazine, followed by the one for Brazilian Vogue. She has her OWN TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS (over 262 000 followers on Instagram), modelled for car and make-up companies and according to Lagerfeld – earned over 3 million euro. 

Sources describe Choupette as a “spoiled, cheeky but loving madam”. She likes using her iPad, eating at the table with Karl(sadly, not anymore), Collette handbags and her maid Francoise.

Choupette was one of the first to officially post on Instagram after Karl Lagerfeld’s death.

“Thank you everyone for your words of condolence. 😿 With a once cold but now simply broken heart, I am going into mourning. I pray that your kind words and well-wishes will help me to put my best paw forward in my future without Daddy @KarlLagerfeld & as my own woman.” said the famous cat.

After his death, Lagerfeld left Choupette, the cat he wanted to marry, the £150 billion fortune. It’s not yet clear how is it going to work…

Love is love (?)

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*of course not all directors are fired, but let’s make it clear, most of them leave huge fashion houses and end up doing their own mediocre lines that don’t sell well. I don’t believe every single one of them is a fasting artist who just wanted to do their own niche thing!

 

Customer profiles of major luxury brands

I have no intention to offend anyone, make fun of certain people or judge other people’s taste in fashion. The post has been written in a humorous way and should be treated as a joke. 

Chanel

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I decided to kick off with a big one. The iconic french womenswear brand is known for its expensive handbags, iconic perfumes, and the legendary double C logo. Chanel is associated with elegance and style, the highest spheres of French chic. Chanel Classic Flap is one of the most wanted bags on Earth and currently costs around five thousand pounds.

We can often see middle-aged women with lip fillers running around shops like Zara, looking for tweedy jackets and tight black dresses to go with their favourite accessory – Chanel brooch (the only one they can truly afford). After a long day in the office, the subject prefers to stay home, put on a silky pajama and search for used Chanel bags on eBay, hoping to find something in good condition and for not more than three grand.  The kids of the subject stay in the living room with their father while the bag hunt is taking place upstairs, on the marketing agency’s MacBook Air.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: heels, jeans or tight trousers, casual top, blazer, brooch (accessory).

Louis Vuitton

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LV is the easiest one. The LV girl knows exactly what she wants. She’s a high-maintenance work of art, like a woman from a Caravaggio painting, but in flip-flops. The LV queen loves a good tan, good nails, shopping with her boyfriend, posting pictures from days spent on shopping with her boyfriend etc. If the day out in the shopping centre happens in the winter, the subject loves to wear furry flip-flops and Canada Goose jacket to go with her Neverfull bag. She would never pay 600 quid for a scarf or 3000 for a jacket, but Neverfull, Speedy Bag, and a zip-around LV wallet are must-haves.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: flip-flops(preferably furry, but Nike is ok), leggings, Canada Goose jacket, a boyfriend(accessory)

Saint Laurent

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The favourite brand of all the skinny, dehydrated, anxious and substance abusing gay boys. The typical Saint Laurent customer is in his twenties, over 6’0 ft tall, severely underweight, has black spots under his eyes from not sleeping and smokes a lot of cigarettes. His favourite colour is black, he hates big logos and tacky outfits. The subject’s favourite drink is iced coffee and food is cigarette smoke. Often wears Chelsea boots but distressed trainers are also ok.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: Chelsea boots or distressed trainers, black washed out skinny jeans, t-shirt or old flannel shirt, baseball or leather jacket, a pack of cigarettes(accessory), sunglasses(accessory), iced coffee(accessory).

Valentino

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Valentino has tried everything to sell their products. From putting golden studs on heels and bags to tacky VLTN logo on t-shirts/sweatshirts/bumbags/backpacks/fucking everything. It’s a brand for people with no specific taste, who just want to have a big logo written all over their face. Gym boys in ripped skinny jeans wear Valentino Rockrunners, together with a puffer jacket, preferably Moncler. Valentino customers tend to show off their money in bars, buy everyone drinks hoping to get sex/attention. At the same time, girls wearing Valentino act like some Spanish princesses, in red gowns, red lipstick, with studded bags.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: Valentino rockrunners, tight ripped jeans, muscle fit jumper, puffer jacket.

Balenciaga

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Let’s be edgy. Let’s wear trainers with three soles that weight five stone, parachute cargo trousers, and old vinyl tops. Let’s shave our heads, start carrying an IKEA bag everywhere and pretend socks are shoes.

Balenciaga is a specific brand. Its intention was to recreate what Maison Martin Margiela had done in the past – an avant-garde but mainstream approach to fashion. Then something went wrong(or right? aren’t sales what really matters?) and all the Louis Vuitton girls got attracted to it. Balenciaga kind of inspires us to experience the underground culture, so here we go: raving, Berghein, Berlin, leather, pills, shaved heads, IKEA…

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: Balenciaga Triple S trainers, Cargo trousers, loose-fit top, vintage jacket, earrings, a lot of Instagram followers(accessory).

 

 

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How I failed as a young author

Incredible was the satisfaction I felt after I finished my first novel in polish. I was about, I don’t even know, 18? 19? I’ve always been overly dramatic, at the same time keen on social issues. Maybe these two characteristics don’t seem to be too connected at first sight, but they are. After my first boyfriend broke up with me over Skype after, well, two and a half years together, I knew it’s the time to let my emotions out like I’m Kelly Clarkson in Since U Been Gone. That was about the time I dropped out of school and started taking British tourists to bars and clubs for a living. All of these things together made me write this unusual… piece, that many wouldn’t even call a novel. I called it, in translation, The Hookup Culture. It was about being young and gay in Poland, dealing with a break-up by drinking five vodka sodas at once, and also making fun of Krakow’s tiny and little-townish gay scene.

The pride in me was indescribable. 19 year old me was sure he’s going to win some People’s Choice Award for that book, everyone will find it funny, exciting and groundbreaking. Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t a case.

Until that cold Autumn evening at my boyfriend’s flat in Tottenham of Krakow. He cooked dinner, I was being lazy as always. Then, the email notification popped up on my iPhone. This guy from Ha!Art, huge left-wing/gay/feminist/queer/millennial publishing company emailed me, praising my book. I didn’t manage to keep it cool and told literally everyone in the gay scene, and even some people from my family, that I’m going to become a professionally published author, have my work on the shelves of high street bookshops and god knows what else. And that almost happened. They published a chapter of my book on their website(HERE, polish) and invited me for a meeting to talk about the release.

And then they stopped sending me updates. Complete silence. People kept asking about the release date, which wasn’t even a thing anymore. That was such a disappointment. Year or two later, already in England, I knew that I want to keep on writing. (In English of course, since I decided to stay.) At least that experience, however embarrassing, taught me to write for myself, and if someone else likes it one day – great!

London was such a surreal time for me. It almost felt like a girl who used to milk cows all her life was invited to Elton John’s Oscar Party. Even crossing the street felt amazing. I saw normal people on the street wearing things, in Poland only celebrities could afford. And that Hot Dog in Harrods… 20 pounds for a Hot Dog!

One time on Oxford Street, me and my best friend had noticed a guy being chased by Selfridges’ security. He clearly stole something from the ground floor, like jewelry or perfume. My friend said then: “Look at his Eastern European outfit”. I started thinking about us from that perspective. How others see us, think of us. With our Frappucinos from Starbucks, Tom Ford sunglasses, McQueen shoes, trying to be someone we were clearly not. Or at least I was not.

That’s why I started this thing, this “novel”, with all the observations and experiences from London. Parties, sex, drugs, fashion, fake people… After I finished it, I sent it to agents and publishers. I got, like, two emails back from publishers, exchanged like ten emails with one of them, but then thought it’s all not worth the effort. It’s just some short collection of thoughts and events that happened to me at 21. That’s why I decided to put it up on Amazon, firstly as an ebook, now also as a paperback. It’s called Cheap Eastern European Boys and you can buy it by clicking HERE:ebook or HERE: paperback.