Lana Del Rey appreciation post

If we met at least once then you know how much I love Lana Del Rey. She’s my number one artist and I can’t imagine my relationship with music without her. Ironically, New-York-born queen of disaster and hopeless romanticism was first introduced to me at the age of fifteen by a middle school friend, a boy so straight, drowning in his own masculinity so much he could easily play the character in one of her songs. That was, in fact, Video Games. Few days later, another straight friend posted the DIY video for Blue Jeans on my Facebook wall. (Straight guys had Lana before gays appropriated her [laugh])

Even since then I’ve been a massive fan. Everything about her just spoke to me straight away. The world made of horrible cheese(sorry Lana), hidden behind a facade of romantic symbolism was something I have always wanted to incorporate into my own life. Strings, roses, mascara, tattoos, guns, tears and white gowns – all the dramatic glamour of a real attention seeking, barely functioning bitch.

At Born to die stage we were all confused. Pop instrumentals blended with orchestral elements and monumental bridges were enough to make the album successful, despite bad reviews from critics. Some of Lana’s most basic work sonically(despite the monumental orchestral theme) includes some of her most iconic lyricism: “I will love you til the end of time”, “money is the anthem of success, so put on mascara and your party dress”,”let me put on a show for you daddy”,”heaven is a place on Earth with you”, “kiss me hard before you go” – just to name a few. Those became industry standards very quickly, inspiring other(younger) barely functioning bitches who later on released their own stuff, in one record label or another. With those simple, captivating lyrics Lana created her own genre, a brand new trend in pop music space. We’re all born to die and we’ve made fuckloads of bad decisions in life. That’s the tea. She then followed the success of the bittersweet whore-candybar with the EP Paradise, one of my personal favourites. I’m proud to say I’ve got that word tattooed on my chest. As Lana would say: I’m fucking crazy, but I’m free. Cliché much, huh.

Her second album Ultraviolence is the fan favourite. She kicked off her darkest, most sadcore work to date with words: I shared my body and my mind with you, that’s all over now. The black and white cover perfectly matched the contents of the record. On Ultraviolence, Lana abandons her hip-hop fuck me after school vibes and decides to switch into heavy, rock instrumentals, electric guitars and nostalgic melodies. Ultraviolence reminds me of leaving your boyfriend at night in bed, sneaking out in your pants, smoking fags on the bench outside the train station together with Courtney Love, shitfaced. Oh, and she also played Glastonbury that year, blessing massive audiences with her sadcore. Who cares if it was kind of a fail.

The motif of summer has always been extremely important in Lana’s work. In Lana’s universe, life is either summer or waiting for summer to start. That’s when we fall in love, make friends, push the boundaries. That’s when the world comes alive. We can hear the nature outside more, we can see more, the days last longer – there’s more to be missed, more mistakes to be made. There’s “summer love”, a term that wouldn’t apply to any other season. “He’s my winter love”, said no one, ever.

It seems like Lana’s third studio album Honeymoon is the perfect example of that. The strings make their come back on this one, but in a slightly different way. This time we can hear them together with slower melodies and bare pianos. On Honeymoon, most tracks sound like taken straight out of Italian mafia films. If Honeymoon was a place, it would be a Mediterranean country, where the temperature is always thirty five degrees and people eat only grapes, plums and oranges. And smoke cigarettes. Adele herself described Salvatore, one of the tracks, as heavenly, saying she feels like she’s flying when she listens to it. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what the fuck would.

On her last record Lust for life, Lana started making some significant changes in her approach to creating and performing. Critically acclaimed(at last) album included Lana’s first ever officially released collaborations. Her friends from the hip-hop side of Lanaverse, The Weeknd and A$AP Rocky both appeared on the album. She also recorded tracks with Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon. She invited back up dancers to perform with her on stage. Not in a traditional, Britney Spears way, no. Sometimes they pretend they’re backup singers, sometimes they just jump around or act sexy. And let’s not forget the cover, which included Lana smiling(!).

Lana had been teasing Norman Fucking Rockwell for over a year before she released it. Now that’s it’s finally here, people can see how long and eventful Del Rey’s journey has been.

It always feels amazing to see your favourite artist doing well. Currently, the same music publications that used to make fun of her in the past praise her music giving it the highest of ratings. In 2012, music website Pitchfork called Born to Die a “fake orgasm”, giving it a 5/10. The same website gave NFR! a 9/10 rating, stating Lana is one of the most talented songwriters of our generation.

Lana’s new album features a summery, surfing vibe, which isn’t anything particularly surprising. But let’s make it clear, you need to have massive balls to start off your album by singing: “God damn, man child… you fucked me so good that I almost said I love you…”

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 the effective ability to absorb the unknown into the zeitgeist. The album includes elements of Latino, African instruments, acoustic sounds, bits of disco, singing in Portuguese and intentional overuse 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 bedtime 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 the structure. Gun control-related lyrics sang monotonously with a choir of monks 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 – an indie-acoustic pretentious 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 very interesting instrumentation. A bit of an eyebrow-raising moment but I don’t care, it’s Madonna, after all. She lost the plot ages ago.

Crave could have been great without Swae Lee and his moany vocal efforts. The song itself is an interesting combination of acoustic guitar and a trippy beat, so it’s nothing more but a wasted chance.

Crazy isn’t very interesting either but it’s a good introduction to Come Alive. Acoustic percussion, some sick, melted strings in the background and subtle vocals make a good combination yet again.

If you’ve been blessed with a deluxe edition, you can listen to Extreme Occident which includes a lovely melody with vulnerable vocals and oriental instruments. It’s one of my personal favourites.

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, they 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 nice listen for fans of this type of music, however, its location on the tracklist 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 ****, drinking Stella in the smoking area. And this kind of Madonna I want to listen to.

Lizzo: “Cuz I love you”

img_4171

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…

img_4170-1

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 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 to. The first one has a great instrumental and first-class, heartfelt, vocal performance. The second one, with an instrumentally confusing intro, is a duet with Missy Elliot and 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 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 their record label. Hopefully, for Lizzo it’s the beginning of something big. Is the album worth listening to? Yes. Is it going to be iconic one day? No.

Equality, feminism, gender roles… My thoughts on Amy Schumer and her new film “I feel pretty”

Amy Schumer is probably the most hated stand-up comedian on the planet. Constantly criticised in America for her controversial jokes and topics she likes to choose for her TV and stand up content, but somehow still influential and loved by lots of famous people in the perfect world of showbiz, glitter and NYC penthouses. I’ve heard her Netflix special was the first one ever to receive a one-star rating from the viewers. Well, I admit that her performance in that one didn’t set my knickers on fire, no fire brigade was called to Shettleston while watching, but the general reception of her work still surprises me. In a bad way though, as it shows how much more we have to learn in modern society.

For those who are not familiar, Amy jokes about her vagina, periods, sex life, relationships with men and other widely known but not spoken about awkward topics. It’s Friday night. Legions of young Americans, armed with alcoholic beverages, ice cream, french fries, whatever, can’t wait to see Beyonce performing on TV. Their heart rate influenced by tons of Diet Coke, peri peri wraps from nearby BBQueen Grill restaurant and Beyoncé’s empowering lyrics and soul-lifting dance moves is faster than bullets of their guns they can legally purchase after turning 18. Beyonce is so amazing, so empowering, such a great example for young girls, black women, people of colour – that’s something most people would say. I like Beyoncé too. She’s an exceptional performer, her songs are great and I love singing along to Love on Top after eleven £3.30 vodka sodas at 2:31 AM.

I just don’t understand how one performer can dance provocatively, sing about sex and use curse words and everyone including Obamas, Oprah, middle-aged housewives and white millennials with student loans bigger than Beyonce’s career itself go crazy when the other is being called unfunny and trash. But Tom, she’s just not funny, that’s all. Ok, but come on, let’s get real – when you don’t enjoy something, you just change the channel or do something else with your time – go shopping, go to the gym, fold trousers, yodel at Walmart… but some people, quite a lot, choose to make “Amy Schumer cringe compilations” and post them on YouTube.

Recently, I met one guy from the States and invited him to come over. We had a chat about the differences between American and British TV, especially chat shows. I told him how much I love Graham Norton, where celebrities, just like us normal people, can have a drink and swear a little bit. In America, even the word “swallow” has to be beeped out, as it might be taken in the wrong way. At least that’s how that boy explained it. When asked about Amy Schumer, he said: It’s just… tasteless. For a woman to talk like that, joke like that.

It’s 2018. We stand together for gender equality and at the same time chick from Long Island joking about a stranger going down on her being a hero is an issue for us? I work in a shop and every day I see guys literally scratching their balls in public, talking about girls in an objectifying way. But boys will be boys I guess, just like haters gonna hate or something. Unless we change the way we raise them, together with the way we raise girls. Hopefully, your daughters will be able to say whatever they want to say – without being judged as women.

Today I had a chance to attend a pre-screening of Amy’s new movie I Feel Pretty (in cinemas May 4) somewhere in Odeon outside Glasgow City Centre. I won’t tell you where exactly because during the journey I was too busy pretending I’m Ariana Grande while her new song was playing, and I didn’t pay attention to the road.

If you feel like I’m kinda right, but at the same time don’t like explicit and vulgar humour – you should give Amy Schumer a chance and go see her new movie. I feel pretty is a HardSwearingAndDirectSexualTermsAndReferences-free comedy about a girl named Renee.

NYC based girl works in some shitty office lives in one of those you can do better hun apartments and struggles with low self-esteem. Living in the world full of perfect people while having a few extra lbs/kgs to cuddle can, indeed, be quite depressing. In order to become someone, she joins this gym nearby. What happens there? She suffers head injury after falling down from this bicycle thing. That’s why you’ll never see me at the gym. I’m fine with my 56 kilograms, thank you.

But wow, she hits her head really hard and suddenly starts seeing herself as a new person, hot as a supermodel, even though she, obviously, hasn’t changed at all. Extra (ridiculous and psychotic) confidence boost opens a lot of new doors for her. Except for talking to a stranger she met in the queue at Dry Cleaners, forcing him to ask her out and making him fall in love with her, she also proves that with enough confidence you can be like Beyoncé too! Despite being far from typical canons of beauty, Renee gets a job at one of the leading beauty companies and starts hanging out with them pretty girls.

I don’t feel like it’s my job to describe this film to you. That’s what Google and Wikipedia are for. I’m writing this to share my point of view on something I consider very important.

People were laughing. I tend to sit down with a bottle glass of wine after work, watch Amy’s comedy and post some on my Instagram story. I always get replies: omg she’s so unfunny. And suddenly I’m there sitting around all these people who are outside of ideological YouTube comment section battle, and hear them laugh.

Maybe Schumer chilled with using very explicit language and humour in this one, but there’s one thing this film and her stand up have in common – incredibly funny self-body shaming. Doesn’t sound good, but is good and can do good for you.

As soon as we understand what’s wrong with us and turn it into a joke – everything seems easier. Because nobody’s flawless. Well, maybe Beyonce…

5 things I hated while living in London.

I remember when I was seven, I had my first English lesson in Poland, in school. We learned how to introduce ourselves to others and say words apple and pear in English. It seems pretty basic, I know, but trust me. Just a few weeks and shit got real. We were translating Dido’s song “Thank you”, together with our teacher. Verse by verse, where she sings she had too much to drink and doesn’t want to get out of her bed at all. None of us had a clue what the song was about. That’s long years before first heartaches, friendzones and flirting with guys in tracksuits.

Another lesson I remember was a dialogue scene between two people, who randomly jumped into each other on the streets of London. That felt so ridiculous! Maybe we were seven, but we all knew that if people talk like that for real, somewhere, anywhere, something must be wrong with them.

“John, what a surprise! We should meet for a cup of tea and a biscuit!!!!” 

We were told since little kids that London is a city of red phone boxes and white townhouses. People are happy there, eating biscuits, drinking tea and living their happy lives. And if we learn English we can get a chance one day.

When I was 18, I worked with this somehow annoying girl. She was so nice, but I’m sorry, at the same time so trash…! She was obsessed with London, talking about it all the time. Oh my god, bitch, just book the Ryanair and go. Do you need a personal hotspot or what? Every few days there was a new picture of London taken from Google images that she would post on her Facebook. She would listen to the most cliche British rock music and walk around being so proud.

I always liked Britain very much too, but not as much as her. When I told everyone I’m leaving, many people replied saying, oh, *she* will be so jealous. If all she can do is post shitty stock images, then she’s going to be stuck in her dream forever.

But London, to my surprise, didn’t meet the expectations. At least not in full. White townhouses are only in SW1. What a shame. I thought I’d live in one… well…

I quickly fixed my mascara in the bathroom, because life is just a classroom, and got over it. But then started discovering more and more cracks in that ceiling. Here are some of my (least?) favourite surprises that no one ever told me about.

1. Standard of living + broken flats costing fortune

Image.gif

I’m from Poland. You guys know we don’t have millions hidden under the sink. That’s why it’s a lot of us everywhere. That’s why from, well, one of the most desirable cities on the planet I expected an upgrade, not downgrade. In Poland, it’s not a lifetime achievement to have a living room in your flat, sofa to sit on, basic furniture or even a TV. In London? If I could get a pound every time I saw mould in someone’s flat, there would be no children starvation on Earth by now.

Many times I spoke to someone on Grindr(for those who don’t know, it’s like Facebook for gay people…) who seemed nice, with profile picture taken at the gym in good area, trendy haircut, just to find out they are like Snow White – living with seven, but no dwarfs, but cockroaches. 112 miles away from central London. Helicopter recommended.

For the record, my rent in London was 580 pounds per month, including bills, for a flat shared with 4 creepy Spaniards I didn’t even know, no lounge or living room. My bedroom had a broken ceiling, one chest of drawers and a bed that remembers the beginning of Cher’s singing career.

2. Tube on Monday morning

Image 2.gif

A lot of people hate tube. With a passion. I actually like it. After moving out of London I started appreciating the idea of a train coming every two minutes, that can take you literally anywhere. There are other variations of it, like overground(mostly for east London) or DLR which is so cool and sometimes feels like a rollercoaster for bankers working in Canary Wharf… Of course, afternoons on weekdays are tough, so are mornings, but that’s a part of living in a big city.

What do I hate about the tube then?

The war of classes.

Everyone’s using tube. Even Rihanna ditched her driver to avoid horrific traffic jam and took tube to the O2 Arena. That’s why many times I observed signs of mutual hate between people so different, they wouldn’t have agreed to share space if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

I used to live in Bethnal Green and work in Southwark. Which means I had to share the carriage with all the people working in the City – getting off at Liverpool Street or Bank. Type of cheeky middle-aged gentlemen with a beer belly, smelling of Dior Savauge they got for Christmas from their wives they cheat on at the office every day. I remember their facial expressions when they had to sit next to a south Asian older lady of different culture. They kept themselves glued to the screens of their fucking iPad Pros (12-inch version.)

Just not a nice feeling.

3. People drinking outside pubs after work on weekdays

Image 4.gif

Sometimes certain things just piss you off, big time. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person(I hope). I personally hated being on a bus back from work on weekdays, driving through Moorgate and seeing pubs, one after another, full of the same type of men I described in a previous paragraph, drinking their pints and having a laugh with mates… like a hundred meters from the actual pub. 200 people around one pub, like it’s so hard just to move to another, less busy place. What an idiotic and annoying phenomenon. Maybe I just fucking hate highly dislike this specific part of society. And I just can’t help it.

4. Old Broad Street

Image 5.gif

There’s a tiny street between Liverpool Street and Bank. Here’s a picture of it.

1134CCF1-F59F-4E24-8C70-79403D00E535.jpeg

Like Trump once said – looks good, doesn’t work. I think Hell might be a city made just from streets like that. 99% of my phone calls to work were made from that street. “Hi boss, I’m so sorry, I’m gonna be few minutes late… yes… yeah, exactly. I’m stuck in Bank. Again.”

There’s a term I find funny, created nowadays, mostly used in job offers that can be found online.

“Busy environment”

If you’d like to see what busy environment is like, I recommend you to take a bus 388 from East London towards Elephant and Castle on a weekday morning. I need to calculate how many weeks of my life I had lost on that street, staring at some poor guy unloading a delivery for a nearby cafe. He knows how it feels to be stressed. He has 3 buses stuck behind him every morning.

5. People living in Knightsbridge

Image 6.gif

I still work for the same high street retailer I worked for in London, but it’s much better now. When they first told me I’m going to the Knightsbridge store I couldn’t be happier. I love high fashion and working literally opposite Harrods and next to boutiques of brands like Gucci, Prada, Versace etc. seemed like a dream come true. I imagined myself walking to work in my navy bomber and a cup of latte from french cafe Paul, looking at all of those fashionable people of Knightsbridge…

yeah, my ass.

Working in Knightsbridge was hell. Of course it’s a ridiculously wealthy area, however, I don’t believe people’s wealth makes them assholes. My friends and I worked in a few other rich parts of town but never had to deal with such ridiculous behaviour like in Knightsbridge.

How do I know these people actually live there? Because they kept coming every day, with their children that trust me, were hard to forget.

I remember being given a full shopping tote and told by a customer to count how much it would all be in total. After ten minutes, the screen of my calculator showed £900. From kids t-shirts worth a few pounds each. After telling the nice lady what the amount was, she asked if we can make some of the tops she chose to order, because she’d like the letters printed on them to be red. I told her then, that unfortunately we are a high street LOW PROFILE retailer and don’t offer such options yet, but I’ll be more than happy to let her know personally when the company starts providing services of this nature.

She was happy. Didn’t detect the sarcasm.