Discovering Shakespears Sister

‘It was acceptable in the 80s’ is a common phrase coined to excuse the unconventional-ness of the decade. However, it also allowed for many spouts of artistic expression especially in the music industry. The flow of inspiration poured uncontrollably but every so often flooded into something genre defying. Enter Shakespears Sister, a pop-rock project of beautiful weirdness dressed in a gothic elegance.

Initially, I came across the band after watching an old re run of Top of the Pops that featured British 80s pop group, Bananarama, a girl group featuring Dublin born Siobhan Fahey. It was whilst watching their performance that my mother asked me if I had ever heard of Shakespears Sister and the look of almost betrayal that crossed her face when I told her I hadn’t is an image I wish I could share with all of you. Unfortunately, that is not the case however I can share with you my discovery into the music she introduced me to.

The name alone piqued my interest and set high expectations for unusual lyrics and dramatic flair, both things the band did not fail to deliver on. Shakespears sister was originally formed as a solo act by Fahey in 1988 when she left Bananarama after feeling her musical needs were not being fulfilled. Embarking on her own project allowed the punk turned pop artist to explore her roots once again, this time staying true to herself as a music artist. The name originated from The Smiths song of the same name, the apostrophe being left out after a misspelling that Fahey liked because she felt that it made it her own. Fahey worked alongside many other personalities in the music industry during the process of writing and recording including friend and college Marcy Levy. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist, Levy contributed both musically and artistically by providing vocals and instrumentals. After some time as a ‘hired hand’, Fahey convinced Levy to give herself a new professional name and Levy decided upon Marcella Detroit – the name she would become most known for during her work with Shakespears Sister and thereafter.

Just before the solo act became a duo, Shakespears Sister released the debut single ‘Break My Heart (You Really’), a song that unfortunately did not achieve the success Fahey sought. However it did achieve it’s goal in separating her from her persona in Bananarama and revealing her new darker look to the world. As well as this it made it apparent the chemistry Fahey and Detroit shared in the recording studio. Neither woman was thrilled about the idea initially, wanting to maintain their independence as artists but after agreeing on a 50/50 split, the two united as equal band members. The reluctance in the beginning of their musical relationship would manifest over the course of their time together until it inevitably lead to the band’s break up in 1993.

With Detroit now on board, Shakespears Sister released their second single (but debut as a duo) ‘You’re History’. The song proved to be the breakthrough both woman wanted, showcasing how Fahey and Detroit complemented each other in both artistic creativity and talented vocals. Whilst the music video is a compilation of quirky 80s nonsense, the song itself is a catchy tune introducing Fahey’s and Detroit’s blending of styles. ‘You’re History’ reached number 10 in the UK charts in 1989 and was followed by the band’s debut album, Sacred Heart, that proved just as successful.

Whilst Sacred Heart also featured the popular singles ‘Run Silent’ and ‘Dirty Mind’, it is the band’s second album, Hormonally Yours, that produced the song Shakespears Sister are most known for and the one that captured my heart. The album was introduced with the first single ‘Goodbye Cruel World’ but it was the second single ‘Stay’ that gave the band their first and only number one as well as the win of Best British Video at the BRIT Awards in 1993.

The narrative music video to ‘Stay’ is truly heart breaking as it depicts Detroit singing to a man presumably on his deathbed. Detroit’s distaught and desperate performance pours into her high vocals and violently tugs on every heart string you possess. The song begins as something soft and full of lost love before Fahey’s entrance a as a malevolent force representing death. Both women fight physically and vocally with their unique voices engaging in a battle for possession. ‘Stay’ is like a dark mixture of two songs, the concoction an appealing elixir of music styles.

Unfortunately, Shakespears Sister fell into the pit that is ‘musical differences’ and went their separate ways after many years together and a brief revival. Although some may find the music to be dated by it’s era and therefore an acquired taste, Shakespears Sister offer something to take you away from modern day and are worth the indulgence.

 

By Skye W. Winwood

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Remembering Dolores O’Riordan

The world has lost yet another beloved star, but her light will keep shining among her family, friends and fans. The death of The Cranberries’ lead singer Dolores O’Riordan was announced on Monday the 15th of January 2018 and has left a dark cloud of devastation hanging over us all. At this time, the cause of her death is unknown and those closest to her have asked for people to respect their privacy and let them mourn in peace. A request that should be abided by all, but we can share in our grief through the beautiful music Dolores has left behind.

Dolores began her music career when she joined The Cranberries in 1990, an Irish rock band formed in Limerick a year prior. The band was initially formed by brothers Mike and Noel Hogan along with Fergal Lawler and Niall Quinn under the name The Cranberry Saw Us. However, the line up was simply not meant to be when Quinn left the band after only a year together. The remaining members began their search for a female singer to front their band and found all they were looking for in Dolores O’Riordan. Dolores came prepared to dazzle, writing her own lyrics and melodies but it was the early stages of the famous ‘Linger’ that got her the job. ‘Linger’ is a perfect summary of the band’s style and approach to music, as well as Dolores’s talent and uniqueness. Her sweet and soft voice still manages to project powerful emotions and capture the heart of anyone listening.

The band’s early EPs and demos caught the attention of many people in influential positions, putting them on the track for success from near day dot. In 1993, they released their debut single, ‘Dreams’, an upbeat song about new love laced with youthful innocence. The song entered the top 30 of the UK chart in 1994 and was one of the songs, alongside ‘Linger’, that featured on The Cranberries debut album, Everyone Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We?. Although mainstream success was achieved early on, both ‘Dreams’ and ‘Linger’ were re-released at later dates to prove even more popular and quickly sending The Cranberries soaring through the charts.

One year after the release of their first album, the band came back with No Need To Argue, an album that completely outsold it’s earlier counterpart. The album contained the iconic song ‘Zombie’ and went triple platinum within a year of it’s circulation at the top of the charts. Apart from ‘Linger’, ‘Zombie’ is arguably the band’s most popular song to date and is a heavy showcase of their placement in the rock genre. Dolores’s vocal performance is as phenomenal as previous recordings but this time laced with an anger made poetic by her angelic tones. The song contains a powerful message concerning the political conflict surrounding Ireland at the time, filled with turmoil and harrowing lyrics.

No Need To Argue has proven to be the band’s most successful album as popularity barely ceased. Later albums, such as To The Faithful Departed, did not reach the same peak of success but kept the band’s place in the heart of their fans. The Cranberries continued to make music together throughout the years, producing numerous music videos and embarking on one of the most successful tours of their career. Rumours circulated about Dolores leaving the band to follow a solo career and in 2004 the band entered a hiatus. In 2007, Dolores released her first solo album, Are You Listening?, and sold over 300,000 copies worldwide. 2009 saw the reunion of the band – although it was not described as such at the time – where they went on a tour of both North America and Europe. The band played their old songs as well as Dolores’s solo music before then going on to release a brand-new album in 2011. In 2017, an acoustic album titled Something Else was released alongside the promise of tour dates. Unfortunately, the tour dates had to be cancelled due to issues arising with Dolores’s health.

The tragic news of Dolores O’Riordan’s death has left many people in a state of shock and mourning for the young artist. Her fellow band members have paid tribute to the singer via social media and it is obvious she was an admired and well-loved woman who will be missed by both those she touched with her music and in her personal life.

 

By Skye W. Winwood

Fall Out Boy are breaking out the Easter eggs early in ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’

Fall Out Boy have always been known for their eccentric and obscure music videos. Rarely ever do they produce something that visually relates directly to a song’s narrative but still always has a firm base in the title or a particular lyric. We all remember the iconic deer love story from ‘Sugar, We’re Going Down’ and Patrick losing his hand in ‘The Phoenix’ but for anyone who needs a little reminder, ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ is a comical look back on Fall Out Boy history.

Watch the music video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wH-by1ydBTM

Set apart from their other music videos, ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ depicts the boys both selling and being sold in a commercial style. The song itself is extremely catchy in typical boundary pushing Fall Out Boy fashion and has just further proven how Mania will be a plethora of genres. The song contains many relatable lyrics to the modern-day introvert but as a celebration more than a reflection. ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ also offers more of Patrick’s voice with less moderation that has placated complaining fans on the new direction the band have taken with their forth-coming album.

Even before the music video was released, the song title offered a reference in the form of ‘Wilson’ to the movie Castaway and should really have been a warning of what to expect. Yet, there was only one visual within the music video that saw a possible explanation for the choice in title. Although, at this point, fans should probably stop trying to understand Fall Out Boy’s lyrical choices and just appreciate the creative genius.

Upon further inspection, it’s obvious ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ is a collection of nostalgia for both the boys and fans with it’s Russian doll of reference to other songs. Before even dissecting each individual reference, the overall style of the music video seems to harken back to ‘The Take Over, The Break’s Over’ that saw Fall Out Boy holding up a middle finger to those calling them sell outs. Throughout their career, the band have come under criticism whenever they try to appeal to a mainstream audience, both fans and critics not understanding that some boxes needed to be ticked in the beginning to ensure success. This ticking of boxes led to many people forgetting the uniqueness and creativity Fall Out Boy have always offered but the band fought back against this and are proving they still are to this day. ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ comments on Fall Out Boy as a product with the commercial style it has taken by selling relics from their history. However, the comedy laced into the video allows for a more light-hearted approach to something the band once really struggled against.

The music video is a mixture of in-your-face and blink-and-you’ll-miss it references for every era of Fall Out Boy’s career. Using props and costumes from other music videos like Patrick’s outfit from the music video for ‘Dance, Dance’ to imbedding lyrics from older songs like ‘This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race’ and ‘Champagne For My Real Friends, Real Pain For My Sham Friends.’ Whole albums are even referenced like Franklin the Sheep from Infinity on High’s album art and the instrument weapons used in ‘The Young Blood Chronicles’ series from Save Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The lead up to Mania has offered many gifts and surprises along the way and ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ only adds to this. Some fans will, of course, try calling the number shown continuously on screen but those who haven’t will be happy to know it’s completely worth it. Calling the number will be answered by a pre-recorded message by Patrick listing off a number of options the caller can choose depending on what they want.

The music video for ‘Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)’ has just further thrown us off the scent for what to expect from the rest of Mania but the music video has given us something to do whilst we impatiently wait for the album’s full release.

Links:

Website: https://falloutboy.com/

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/FallOutBoyVEVO

Twitter: https://twitter.com/falloutboy

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/falloutboy

‘HOLD ME TIGHT OR DON’T’ review

‘Champion’ review

 

Review by Skye W. Winwood

In Music We Trust

Music has deeply connected with so many people, helping us to understand ourselves even when we thought we couldn’t. No matter which genre is your favourite, who your music idol is, if you play or simply listen, we can all agree music is one of the greatest healers. My own personal connection with music is something I don’t think I could ever fully explain. Why certain songs or artists mean so much to me and help me through dark times. Yet Aiden Hatfield has come close by describing music as a ‘medicine’, one we can use to help us cope with some of life’s hardest struggles. One of these struggles becoming more and more apparent is depression. Something that has most likely affected us all in some way and in today’s society we are being encouraged to speak out and embrace who we are. Aiden has created In Music We Trust, a clothing brand with the aim of raising awareness for those suffering with depression and other mental health issues. Aiden is both a musician and someone who openly shares his experience with depression but is not ashamed to admit it and encourages other people to not be ashamed either.

Watch Aiden give an important message here: https://twitter.com/AidenHatfield/status/952087821799407617

In Music We Trust offers a range of clothing and accessories all promoting the important message of trusting in something that can never let us down. The brand was established three years ago when Aiden bought a box of t-shirts and began selling them online. The brand quickly grew as more and more people stepped forward to show their support and thanks for something that has brought many people comfort. The Twitter page is flooded with grinning, happy people all sporting In Music We Trust items from wristbands, to vests, to jumpers and even goody bags!

Aiden’s own personal Twitter page is full of inspiring and encouraging messages every day to spur people on. After speaking to Aiden myself, he comes across as a genuine guy with a real passion for what he believes in. He said music is something that has always helped him cope with his own depression and he felt the need to shed light on that fact. Even more amazing than raising awareness is that 50% of profits from sales are donated to the Mind charity – a charity with the goal of never giving up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets both support and respect. In Music We Trust is based in the United Kingdom with free UK shipping however they do also ship worldwide.

I’ve already put my order in and I encourage everyone who reads this to do the same. By reading this blog, you must have an interest in music and what better way to support something you love by helping out people with a shared love?

Links:

Website: http://www.inmusicwetrust.co.uk/

‘In Music We Trust’ Twitter: https://twitter.com/imwtclothing/media

Aiden’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/AidenHatfield

 

By Skye W. Winwood

Oceans of Noise’s new E.P is like a siren’s call

Oceans of Noise are not about half measures and are proving it with their self-titled E.P. Even though it is yet to be released, Oceans of Noise has a polished and perfected sound belonging deep in the depths of dark rock. Even more astonishing is that the band was only formed three years ago but come across as a band with at least a decade’s worth of experience. Although, this may come as less of a surprise when learning each member of the band brings their own extensive background of experience.

At just the tip of the iceberg is soprano, Sertab Erener, a hugely successful and award-winning artist in her native country of Turkey as well as across Europe. She also holds the immensely impressive title of the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest winner and featured on the soundtracks to various films such as Masked and Anonymous and the Japanese-Korean film, A Tale of Two Sisters. Completing the band are guitarist Emre Kula (from the prog rock band, Kes), bassist Eser Unsalan, keyboardist Ozan Yilmaz and drummer Alpar Lu. The band also extends to Joel Hamilton, a multi Grammy Awared nominated producer who has seen success with the likes of Bonobo, Highly Suspect, Tom Waits and Unsane.

The band have managed to develop a truly hypnotising and engaging sound that is a combination of effortless skill and Poseidon like energy that will drown you in a sound of synths and riffs. Just from the E.P’s lead track, ‘The Age of Ghouls’, it’s obvious the anticipation the band are building is rightly deserved. ‘The Age of Ghouls’ is directly from any 80s dark love/lust occult film, with a sensual, swaying beat and seductive riffs. With a voice crafted for rock, Sertab provides spine tingling vocals to a background of heavy, crashing guitars and drums. The pure emotional and raw talent of the band bleeds through the track with a promise of a future rock anthem.

With this well-established sound, it’s almost hard to believe the band came together over something as simple as a jam session. After playing a few times together performing covers of other songs, Oceans of Noise quickly realised the potential they had together could lead to their own original songs. Whilst ‘The Age of Ghouls’ is the lead song, the E.P also features the beautiful ‘Frozen Love’, an aching ballad that will have you shedding a tear as you reach for the lighter. The track is bittersweet, offering slow moments of harmonic melody before hitting hard at the chorus with irrevocable passion. The E.P also offers ‘Finding White in Black’, an English translated version of the track ‘Ayla’ from the film Ayla: The Daughter of War. Even more radio friendly ‘Miracle’ is a showcase of the band’s talent to appeal to both devoted and mainstream fans.

Oceans of Noise will be releasing their self-titled E.P on January 27th with the chosen launch destination of London’s Omeara.

Links:

Apple Music: https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/oceans-of-noise/1296282833

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/21HzqFortyEjD2yOdCZAPY

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/oceansofnoise

Facebook: facebook.com/oceansofnoise

Twitter: twitter.com/oceansofnoise

Instagram: instagram.com/oceansofnoiseband

Website: oceansofnoiseband.com

 

Review by Skye W. Winwood

Heavyball are telling a tale we all know well with their new album, When Can You Start?

Having dreams is important. Being able to escape the humdrum drag of life is sometimes all we have to survive it. Then again, a healthy, humorous dose of reality can remind us things aren’t so bad after all. Heavyball are bringing you just that with their all British, all complaining new album, When Can You Start?

Listen to lead track, ‘Top of Your Game’, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGBsK4I7pTo

When Can You Start? brings the modern-day problems of Brexit, cost of living and nuclear war into an 80s world, being a twelve-track water cooler story mixed with complaints about your boss and the weather. The album follows a week in the life of an office worker, a tale as old as time we all know even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves. Tracks like ‘Top of Your Game’ introduces our protagonist as someone who once had big dreams that are now being suffocated by the confines of their cubicle. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, with other tracks having a hint of hope. Heavyball have taken the life of the working man, mixed it with the humour from Only Fools and Horses and played it to a sound akin to Madness.

Heavyball was formed in Nottingham in 2011 by Bigface (vocals and guitar) and his brother Habs (drums), later joined by Johnny Iball on bass and Tom ‘Stone Cold’ Frost on lead guitar. Although the band have worked hard to establish a distinctive sound, their music appeals less to fans of a particular genre and more to fans of a particular music style. When Can You Start?, as previously mentioned, takes on more of a story-telling style that sucks you into the life of the created protagonist. The ups and downs of average life are fully captured in songs like ‘The Perils of Midweek Drinking’ and ‘Office Party.’

‘The Perils of Midweek Drinking’ is a toe tapping, guitar shredding tune about the indulgences we all allow ourselves when the week just becomes too much. The song tells the tale of the brief weakness we have before the suffering endured the next day when work comes around once more. The track is a jumping, tumbling downhill spiral into the rituals of the week with a skilled guitar solo and thumping drum beat that might be enough to get you up for work the next day. Whilst ‘Office Party’ is a jaunty tune of trying to find the bright side of life only for it all to go wrong. The track captures the moody, dry tone of British humour where we always expect the worst. The fast pace of the track gives the impression of time slipping away as the character repeats the same routine day in and day out, even referring to the event as ‘another’ office party.

Heavyball have already received high praise from many fans and known personalities such as Chris Hawkins from Radio 6 who has dubbed them ‘one of the best live bands.’ With this praise and the comical genius of their new album, Heavyball have produced something we can all relate to in some way and take something away for ourselves. By creating a character for the audience to follow through songs adds a personal touch that really connects with listeners as they apply it to their own lives. When Can You Start? offers dead end jobs, failed dreams and personal triumphs we can all share in and laugh the pain away.

Links:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/heavyball

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/7l1XJIYCH6Kop2j6plDWvk

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HeavyballTV/videos

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Heavyball/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/heavyballreal

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heavyballreal/

Website: http://www.heavyball.net/

 

Review by Skye W. Winwood

Survival Code are changing the game for rock bands in 2018

Stripped back, honest music is hard to find in the modern world. With everything coming out of the music industry of late being lost in glitz, glamour and shock value. Yet, the rock genre has seen a recent revival with bands like Greta Van Fleet in prog rock. Now Survival Code are returning to the roots of rock with their new single ‘Not Working.’ Already having gained quick support in the media world from radio stations like Planet Rock and Kerraning! Radio, Survival Code are a London based duo who have provided the most enticing introduction in the form of ‘Not Working.’

Listen to ‘Not Working’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VejwI2ox_20&feature=youtu.be

The song is one that needs to be heard live and is accompanied with a music video that captures the energy and humour of the band, making them appealing beyond their music. Consisting only of Dublin born Gary McGuinness (on lead vocals and guitar) and London bred Tom Cook (on drums and backing vocals), the pair have rid themselves of anything that is not absolutely essential. Trimming the fat of surplus band members and unnecessary production has allowed Survival Code to race ahead on the road to success.

Laying the way for their debut album, Hopelessness of People, ‘Not Working’ is a rock track Biffy Clyro wish they wrote. Gary’s vocals are a soft accompaniment to the hard rock sound, providing something that can appeal to all fans of the rock genre. Whilst having elements of a classic rock sound, ‘Not Working’ is a single completely embracing the movement of rock and guarantees Survival Code will not be left behind. Standing strong against the issue of wayward band members, Survival Code have been helped along by none other than Matt Hyde (who has worked with Slipknot, Bullet for my Valentine and Ash). The duo has the power and passion of a band twice their size, their dedication and effort simply baffling when considering they are making it all on their own. Even without other band members, Survival Code manage to pull off professional riffs and melodies that will have you addicted in no time.

2018 sees Survival Code performing a few live shows in London and Dublin. Filling this new year with their music, ‘Not Working’ has the release date of February 1st with the full album, Hopelessness of People, being available in August.

Live Dates:
January 12th – Whelan’s, Dublin

Single Launch – Jan 27th: “The Lounge”, Archway, London (with Youth Killed It, Kid Kapichi and more!)

February 22nd – Hope & Anchor, London

 

Links:
Soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com/thesurvivalcode
Spotify: www.spotify.com/thesurvivalcode
Youtube: www.youtube.com/thesurvivalcode
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thesurvivalcode
Twitter: @thesurvivalcode
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thesurvivalcode
Website: www.thesurvivalcode.co.uk

 

Review by Skye W.Winwood

The Broken Islands’ new album Wars

Music gives us the tools that allow us to experience and create something new from combining what has past. The Broken Islands have taken full advantage of the freedom music gives us by resurrecting fallen genres. Genres like trip-hop and dark wave that are endangered and only see the light within niche markets. With a sound that could be the soundtrack to a futuristic dystopian film, The Broken Islands have released their brand-new album Wars and it breaks all the rules of convention.

Listen to the lead track ‘No-one Left to Kill’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6U3vkfJA8NM

Consisting of alternating lead and rhythm guitarists Will MacDonald and Kurtis Sheldan, Stephan Cameron on bass, Ty Badali on drums, Rachel Ashmore on keyboards and Rachelle Boily providing the sensually hypnotic vocals, The Broken Islands have the sound of My Bloody Valentine and the un-conventionalism of Ladytron. After taking about a year to write and record the tracks, Wars is now complete and is a beautiful, distorted collection of songs. With the help of Dave ‘The Rave’ Ogilvie (most known for his work with Skinny Puppy, Trent Reznor and Killing Joke), The Broken Islands have really put in the work to achieve their dreams. Already having played for a sell-out crowd in a local venue, they are determined to be the next big band in the alternative genre.

Taking a page out of Morcheeba’s book, Wars is something not belonging to current mainstream music but fighting against the current with a sound that is both electric and soothing depending on which track from the album you are listening to. ‘No-one left to Kill’ is a song consisting of a vibrating electric echo infused with 90s vibes. The low thumping bass blends perfectly with Rachelle’s haunting vocals to create something akin to The Cranberries. The raw emotion captured in the song is breath-taking and continues to resonate long after the song has reached its end. On the other side of the scale is ‘Crown’, a song that will leave you with a heavy devastation that can only be cured by listening to the song on repeat. ‘Crown’ takes you on a journey of both highs and lows, soaring and diving and never giving you a chance to catch your breath. The guitar solo within the song hits hard at the crescendo of the song before mellowing out once more to leave a feeling of needing more. ‘El Dorado’ offers something different again, with a slightly funky start that transforms into a trippy track of high reaching, chiming peaks. Each track belonging to Wars has been meticulously thought out and performed with an admirable precision to evoke the exact feelings intended by the band when creating the songs.

Wars is an ocean of crashing guitars and sweeping vocals that will bring you to the shore of The Broken Islands, a place where organic soundscapes meet with music gone by. Almost overflowing with deep emotion, vast tenderness and heart-breaking truth, The Broken Islands have released something that will no doubt be a milestone in rock music.

Links:

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-475951978/sets/wars
Spotify: https: https://open.spotify.com/artist/5gpCj0xQj8BwdG3uXPUJRr
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvEJQKLM-qaFjTvMXxUMkWg
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thebrokenislands/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/broken_islands
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/_thebrokenislands_/
Website: http://www.thebrokenislands.com/

 

Review by Skye W. Winwood

The sensational soundtrack of The Greatest Showman

Sometimes I think about changing this blog from music focused to movie but then I remember, where would movies be without their soundtracks? How would moments be brought to life if not for hair raising scores and poetic lyrics? Musicals portray life, living and history in an over the top, romanticised beauty that we wish could be our own lives. The Greatest Showman is no exception to this, filled with the cheesy clichés we love and forgive in theatre helped along by a modern-day soundtrack in a colourful Victorian world. Telling the tale of P.T Barnum and his group of ‘oddities’, The Greatest Showman and its soundtrack are an uplifting experience everyone needs to rush to witness in the cinema whilst they can.

If you have yet to see it, watch the trailer for the movie here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jr9QtXwC9vc 

A brief warning: this blog post will contain spoilers for the movie so proceed with caution. The film begins in medias res, directly launching you into the action with ‘The Greatest Show’. Possibly because I entered the cinema knowing next to nothing about the film, but I was instantly blown away by the hard-hitting track that evoked a sound similar to Imagine Dragons. The rising chorus of voices sweep through the song before it levels out into a slow building beat that climbs higher and higher, with your heartbeat echoing the sound. The fast pace of the song breaks through into a chorus of all the characters voices and sets the dazzling mood for the whole movie. Unfortunately, we only receive a snippet of ‘The Greatest Show’ in the very beginning, leaving a want for more that is more than fulfilled by the grand finale.

Listen to ‘The Greatest Show’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyVYXRD1Ans 

Hugh Jackman’s vocals reprise his role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserable, bringing the same power and passion to his role in The Greatest Showman as P.T Barnum. Themes of dreaming big are a constant throughout the movie, the inspiring message of achieving all you can fully realised by the time the credits are rolling. However, the idea of dreaming only being in innocence is also captured by the songs ‘A Million Dreams’ and ‘This is Me’, two tracks that fight against the world no matter what it throws at you. ‘A Million Dreams’ is a sweet dream in itself, the song a combination of the vocals of the child actors portraying a young P.T and Charity Barnum and Jackman and Michelle Williams as the characters in their adulthood.

Listen to ‘A Million Dreams’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pSQk-4fddDI 

‘This is Me’ is possibly the highlight of the entire movie, Keala Settle (who portrays Lettie Luz, ‘The Bearded Lady’) giving an uplifting, powerful performance that only builds in power as the song continues. The song takes place in the movie after Barnum has rejected the people he brought together in the first place, the characters rebelling against those who dare to judge them and treat them as less. ‘This is Me’ encourages everyone in the theatre to sing along and cry out for every time they were ever pushed to the side and ostracised. Settle’s voice acts as the voice for the whole movie, giving both quiet moments of reflection that are quickly drowned out by a collective chorus of acceptance.

Listen to ‘This is Me’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEJd2RyGm8Q

However, much like any musical that has testing and trying moments, there is an element of comedy sprinkled into the movie in the form of ‘The Other Side.’ A song that is the combination of trying to open someone’s eyes to another world whilst also trying to gain position in business. The duet is performed by Jackman and Zac Efron (who is portraying the playwright, Phillip Carlyle) and is a toe tapping, rhythm infused battle for the upper hand. With neither man willing to back down, ‘The Other Side’ is a fun, overlapping, relationship building of like minded characters eventually coming together in a harmony of voices and ideas.

Listen to the ‘The Other Side’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk008ADh4iY

These are only a few of the songs that stood out for me, but I encourage you to explore the soundtrack on your own to discover which track speaks to you the most. The only critiques I have of the movie as a whole are the pacing seemed a little quick and I wanted a little more with the other characters. Even with the song ‘This is Me’, I still wish the movie had touched more on the lives and relationships of the other characters within the circus. With that being said, the soundtrack cannot be faulted and although the movie itself has received mixed reviews, the soundtrack is something we can all seem to agree on.

Links:

Full soundtrack available for listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NyVYXRD1Ans&list=PLi0vNpDrBJPdGH3LoC85PgixsOq5vDUV3

 

Review by Skye W. Winwood

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