Monday, 31 May 2010

Tom Dice- Teardrops Album Review

Tom Dice is a Belgium singer/songwriter who participated in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010, placing 6th overall. He also came 2nd in the Belgium X Factor in 2008. Teardrops was released in April 2010.

The album cover is a simplistic portrait of Tom Dice. I think it's terrible, and having seen the single covers for Me And My Guitar and Bleeding Love, this really is rubbish and doesn't do justice at all to the songs on here!

The album contains 13 tracks as follows:

1. Start Without An Ending 4/5
At just over a minute long, this song I really consider to be an intro. However, the catchy backing and stripped back vocals really make me wish this was a full track!

2. Me and My Guitar 5/5
Tom's Eurovision entry is one of the best songs on the album. The acoustic sound of the song with powerful vocals and a catchy chorus... just immediately likeable!

3. Lucy 4.5/5
The intro to this sounds so much like a Taylor Swift song... which is broken by the verse. Phew! Just when we thought we escaped, the chorus brings back this crazy Taylor Swift country sound. The "I will be waiting" bit in the chorus resembles Taylor's "I'll be waiting" in the song Love Story. Nonetheless, this song resembles the Male Taylor Swift in Tom in a good way, whether or not he copied her.

4. Too Late 5/5
A slightly more upbeat track with a rock pop sound. Another track that I really like that is immediately likeable due to it's mainstream sound.

5. A soldier for his country 4/5
This song was quite interesting. The war sound effects are quite realistic and could've been from any war film. The track is also quite emotional and strong lyrically; and again it would be an appropriate sound track for any war film. It isn't immediately likeable but it will grow on most people.

6. Carry our burden 3/5
The dancy cyber intro isn't very likeable, nor is the song overall. I don't know how to describe this song at all- just that I don't like the verse at all... The chorus saves the song slightly, but not by much.

7. Murderer 5/5
The good songs return with "Murderer", a dark song which again is strong lyrically. The sound is catchy and upbeat. Another easy winner.

8. Why 4/5
The song reminds me of Matthew West. It is another strong track but doesn't stand out as much as tracks like "Murderer" or "Too Late". The chorus is very strong though!

9. Forbidden Love 4/5
There are some funky upbeat elements in this song which are mainstream and extremely likeable, but overall, there is something missing that doesn't make this a 5* track.

10. Always and Forever 3.5/5
The verse is nothing special; the chorus saves it a bit... there is a bit of a Michael Buble sound here... don't know what it is, just makes me think of him...

11. Broken 4.5/5
Another very strong track popping in here near the end. A real strong and upbeat sound. Really like the backing and the vocals are great! Addictive one this is!

12. Miss Perfect 4/5
The penultimate track to "Teardrops" is another great track, although in the middle it goes "Shut the f*** up" several times which shocked me a bit as I didn't expect there to be swearing at all... it makes the song more emotional I guess...

13. Bleeding Love (Originally by Leona Lewis) 4.5/5
I didn't expect this song to be on here, and Tom Dice's version is amazing... most of it sounds the same, but he puts his sound onto it... the only criticism is that his voice goes soft (not powerful or strong enough) when the chorus starts; where it goes "Keep Bleeding, I keep keep bleeding love"... Other then that, a great finish to the album.

TRACKS TO LOVE: Me And My Guitar, Too Late, Murderer, Broken, Bleeding Love
TRACKS TO SKIP: Carry our burden.

After Eurovision, Tom Dice is sure to gain more coverage, and this album as a whole is a very strong debut album. Despite the skippable track "Carry Our Burden", all the other tracks carry a Tom Dice sound that is easy to like, and many tracks on here are addictive. Despite sounding at times like the spawn of Taylor Swift and Michael Buble, Tom Dice is sure to have a good career given his unique raw sounding voice.

Broken Sword 2 DS Review

I finally got round to playing this game and it was intriguingly GOOD... Some places were hard, but it was a very enjoyable experience and highly recommended! I love a game with a good story, and this has it!

~~~BOX ART~~~
The box art is quite interesting and does carry some themes related to the game's story, but I think there could definitely be a more interesting and dynamic cover- the tension, anxiety and intrigue experienced in the game does not reflect through the cover, which is a shame, because a cover that does grab attention immediately would've perhaps aided.

Nonetheless, the Broken Sword games have been around for a while so people are NOT going to miss this game. However, as a newbie to the series, I have to say the cover doesn't reflect the magnitude of flavour in the game.

Having never played a Broken Sword game before, I have to say the immediate story grabbed me and got me hooked. Whilst the opening sequence WAS long and I would perhaps have given up on any other game, this got my attention and made me endure just a bit longer. The animations and dynamic expressions of the characters, as well as the short movie sequences also helped make the story more diverse and exciting.

So what is the game about? You start the game playing as Nico, a photo-journalist who gets invited to a wealthy man's home, and of course, he gets killed, and she is immediately enroped in some dark mystery quest. This is a point and click adventure and Nico pretty much starts investigating straight from the opening scene.

Items and people that can be interacted with have a small round bubble on it which you can click on using the stylus to examine or speak to. You can also pick up items and use items on people and objects to trigger the next step. Given the game is pretty linear, you can't progress until you've picked up everything you need and spoken to everyone you need to speak to, which at times can be annoying, but if you are stuck, there is conveniently a hint corner on the top right.

Whilst Nico's story has grabbed me immediately, it isn't Nico that we play as for the rest of the game. Meet George Stobbart, an American tourist who also gets wrapped into the story, when the man Nico is supposed to meet dies in an explosion in the cafe George is sitting at.

This sends George on a round the world mission to uncover the clues to the mystery revolving around the Knight's Templar, whilst Nico does absolutely nothing, sitting at her apartment in Paris- which really annoyed me. The character of George in the whole game is not as developed as Nico's in the first chapter. Apart from his humour and sarcasm, his background is pretty much unknown.

Nonetheless, George's (NOT NICO'S) adventure around the world sends him to different European locations such as Spain, and meeting some outrageous characters, and doing some rather stupid (but clever) things.

One example includes stealing a door key, imprinting on soap, filling it with plaster of paris and making a copy in order to replace the real thing. That's the clever part. The stupid part is to make the key look convincing, George has to paint it. And to do so, he gets Nico to talk dirty to the person keeping the paint hostage. Yes, pretty silly stuff- but very funny!

Which moves me nicely onto dialogue. The whole thing is full of it, and perhaps the hours that I spent on it was mainly reading the text, most of which I skipped (which didn't affect game play at all), although some of it (mainly between Nico and George) are hilarious- so don't skip them!

Interestingly, during conversation, you are sometimes given choices. Do you tell the truth, or lie? Do you agree or disagree? Whilst I am convinced either answer would progress the game in the same way, one instance got George lying to the cafe waitress he is a doctor and forcing a pint down her.

Of course, an "Indiana Jones" type game with such a deep background context has to have it's share of puzzles, and they come mostly during the need to open trapdoors, with mechanical locks that need to be opened through block moving puzzles. Other times, a secret message needs to be deciphered, with a photo jigsaw thrown in as well.

Whilst most the puzzles are fun, some are tedious and you can get stuck quite easily. Thankfully again, there are hints. Most of the puzzles appear at the beginning and the end, leaving the middle part of the story pretty boring at times, although it is also here that most of the silly yet clever events occur.

The story as a whole is intriguing, and the ending is sweet, although short, and for those of you who like a game with a convincing story, this is the game for you!

Control of the game is done solely using the stylus, and hovering around the screen will enable you to see and interact with the points of interest.

The game can be pretty difficult given it's linear story and the somewhat strict order of play. However, given the small inventory, talking to everyone several times over, and using relevant items on them will get you past even the most difficult situation. If you are truly stuck, hit the hints button, which will further your progress.

With the hints, sometimes it is TOO vague; it doesn't tell you much, which occurs during puzzle hints. Other times, during the progression of the story, it is TOO direct. It tells you where to go, what to do, who to speak to; and that frankly spoils the game.

Also, almost every item that you pick up will be useful at some point, so trying everything unused on everything new will almost always work.

The graphics are pretty strong, with dynamic backgrounds, detailed objects and high quality animations. I am rather impressed they got the perspective aspect into the game. It is a small detail, but it annoys me that games that have a movable sprite does not change size in comparison to spacial depth. This game does that, which rather impressed me.

In terms of music and sound, I played most of it without sound as the music doesn't do much at all for the game, even the ending didn't have good sound or music! And the game missed it's mark here by not having a voice over during dialogue, even during movie sequences! Had they done that, this game would've not only been a "game", but a great story, almost movie like.

As a new player to the "Broken Sword" series, I'm highly impressed by the depth of the context to the story, the characters animation and the humour in game. The adventure has been fun and non-repetitive, with the occasional puzzle uplifting and challenging. Whilst I was slightly disappointed with the lack of input from Nico, Stobbart makes up for in the rest of his interactive story. The graphics are good but the music isn't; but a game like this only needs good, clever plotlines and this game has just that.

At under 10 hours game play, this game is pretty short, but the solid and intriguing story; cute and expressive animation; and humous dialogue will make this game hugely enjoyable to most!

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Eurovision 2010 Final

It's finally the final! I can't wait for it to get started!! Anyway... this year I didn't go Googling all the acts and finding out about them... but having seen the semi-finals I have a good idea of which ones I liked and will support during the show!

Apparently Azerbaijan is the favourite to win this year... last year's favourite, Norway's Alexander Rybak ACTUALLY DID win... so we will see if this is going to be the same.

These are my favourites: Portugal, Belgium, Romania, Cyprus, Israel and Azerbaijan; so hoping they will do well!!!

You can check out my thoughts on all the other acts on my recaps of the first semi final and the second semi final.

The show started with the performance by Alexander Rybak. It wasn't as good as his performance last year, nor his performance at the UK selection show. However, it WAS better than Dima Bilan's winning performance last year.

Here is the order for tonight's final... I will comment on the performances of the Big 5 (those who sponsor and last year's winner) as well as on the other performances if there's any change, for good or for worse.

1. Azerbaijan*
With the "favourite" to win starting the show, it's a pretty difficult standard to follow! She sang better in this show than the semi-final so good on her :D I love how the beat synchronises to her walking down the steps haha

2. Spain
The backing dancers are funky but the song is crap, forgettable; the whole thing is boring... OUT. NEXT. HATE. The circus theme just doesn't work for the song or the singer. . . Btw was that security dragging someone out... Oh yea- - someone invaded the stage ahhahahahhaa? XD AND~ props for the fireworks near the end...

Stage invasion at 1:11!

3. Norway*
The song sounds like something from a musical or something, and he definitely had the voice to match! Is the song from Les Mis or something? D: It's quite a boring performance; and he should be on the Norway "West End" instead of Eurovision.

4. Moldova
I didn't care much for Moldova during the semi, and don't really now, but yes the waistcoats are pretty stylish- someone get me one! Points for their outfits- not the song!

5. Cyprus*
Yes, he's Welsh. I think he's part Cypriot or he wouldn't be able to participate? Hmm... I prefer Belgium's Tom Dice and his guitar, but this is great too!! The performance isn't very interesting though... :P

6. Bosnia and Herzegovina

7. Belgium*
It's quite a boring performance, but I love the song. That "Come on Oslo" is sure to get a few more votes lol... but I'm not sure how his simple "one man" performance will fare overall... Fingers crossed?

8. Serbia
Sammi Cheng on TV!!! I just have to repost this image because I can't help but see Sammi Cheng... the song = rubbish... cool bubblewrap dresses again, but overall stupid bad performance.

9. Belarus
Again, the wings at the end = VERY COOL... sparklyyy!!! The first man who sang has a voice that didn't really match but sounded alright at the chorus... :P

10. Ireland

11. Greece

12. United Kingdom
UK!!! Well... the performance overall was better I thought apart from the last note which was a bit painful to the ears... The set was alright, nothing really special... although the sihllouette at the beginning was nice. we have NO CHANCE at winning.

13. Georgia*

14. Turkey
With a name called MANGA, they can't really go wrong... and with that woman making sparks... an alright song... not really my style. :P

15. Albania

16. Iceland
She looks a LOT like the Ireland participant... I wonder if any of the voters would get confused... nonetheless this is better than the Ireland one :D

17. Ukraine
I have to say this is kind of growing on me- its a bit scary but she has a powerful voice... if only she sang something less depressing?? And I still don't get what is with the hood and the significance of her removing it? D:

18. France
This is better than in the video snippet we saw during the semi-finals... it's quite catchy but somewhat random and the sound reminds me of something I've heard elsewhere... that thing at the end... that chant - - hmm randommmm!

19. Romania*
I like this... nothing much else to say apart from the closeup shot of the man showed a big vein on his head- like it's about to pop!! And the woman's operatic bit was done so effortlessly! :)

20. Russia
The one that got booed. That's what this song is going to go down as... I like the falling confetti... I wonder if it has to be swept up immediately after the performance for the next one? :P lol. And is the sketch the same one from the semi or did he get a new one? Hmm... they are memorable for all the wrong reasons and I'd laugh if they won.

NOTE: The interim in the green room with the fake volcano at Iceland's table made me laugh... haha I'd vote for them just for that...

21. Armenia*
She looks like Angelina Jolie from far away...

22. Germany
She sounds like Florence and the machine from the clips we've heard before at the semi-finals. ANd here, she looks like Avril Lavigne!!! It's quite a boring performance... it sounds German. I can't explain it- - it does... otherwise quite a British sounding one... LOL

23. Portugal*
Love this song... really addictive, despite sounding like a Korean TV Drama soundtrack! Hope she wins... :P

24. Israel*
I like the song, but don't think he'll win... He's way too happy to be singing those depressing lyrics! It is a powerful song... and he's got a good voice... wonder how well it will do! :P

25. Denmark
This is a really good song, but the lead woman's voice is slightly too low... it gets better later on though... Pretty catchy stuff and a good way to end all the performances tonight. OH WAIT- Spain has to perform again due to that invading man! Spare me PLEASE! A BAD way to end the night!

*songs I like

So they have all performed... Quite an array of good performances!! The three I want to win most are: Belgium, Romania and Portugal... (although the ones I've asterisked are also ones I like so wouldn't mind if they won!) I really have no idea who actually will win given I didn't check out the polls and all that... so will be a total surprise this year!

I always get nervous when the points get announced... so won't really write much when they do...
Have to add that it was nice to see Christina Metaxa (2009 Cyprus participant) and Yohanna (2009 Iceland Participant) present the points for their country!

- - -

And after all that- the winner is:

1. Germany with 246 points
2. Turkey with 170 points
3. Romania with 162 points

UK came LAST with 10 points.
Belgium was 2nd for a while then dropped near the end to (sixth place)
Portugal didn't do so well! She came 18th. :(

See full results here.

Here is the clip of Lena winning... she was really funny- she didn't seem to know what to do... and her words came out as babblejunk. XD

It was pretty obvious Germany would win quite early on!!! WOW- Germany 2011... :D

Overall, the contest was not as stunning as last year's in Russia. However, the green room decor is PHENOMENAL... Love love love the bays. And the flash mob dancing was awesome- great idea- and looked like great fun, fitting the "Share the moment" theme. :D

UPDATE: I hate that people are commenting saying Germany, as a Big 4, and a sponsor, that their win was unfair. How? People voted for her, and it can't be the jury because the Big 4 didn't win last year. So it's fine they pay for the contest and NOT win, but when they do, people call it cheating?

Friday, 28 May 2010

Hotel City- Facebook Application

OK I'm not one to join any random app on Facebook, but having tried this game called Hotel City, I am now HOOKED. Produced by Playfish, who also made Restaurant City (of which I am a member and top amongst my friends), Hotel City is pretty much a very similar concept...

Build and design your hotel from scratch and level up to develop, build, extend and decorate into a Five Star business! At the moment, there isn't much to do apart from decorate the hotel and visit friends etc... but it is a promosing app.

The levelling is tedious, but you can pretty much leave it for a couple of days and let it level itself out as you can pay for a max of 48 hours worth of opening hours per visit...

Anyway, HELP ME- I can't be addicted to this now- EXAMS!!!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Eurovision 2010 Second Semi Final

It's time for the second semi-final to this year's Eurovision Song Contest, and another 17 acts battle it out to win a place in the final on Saturday. Here are my thoughts as they perform:

1. Lithuania
These guys are quirky with their air guitar and their foam ones. . . Pretty funky... and would not have expected them to reveal their sparkly pants had they not previewed it last semi-final!!

2. Armenia
OK. This song is called apricot stone... and there's an actual apricot stone on stage. I'm keeping my eye on that thing- something is going to happen to it I think! Now that the man has poured water on it, I'm guessing it's going to grow? YESS! I was right... a whole blossom mechanically erects itself on stage... It's not as impressive as it could be... quite a catchy song though.

3. Israel*
He's way too happy when singing this song, the translated lyrics are quite depressing... nonetheless it's a powerful song...

4. Denmark
Wow- the screens have a pretty cool effect... and the song is quite catchy... The woman's voice is a bit too deep for my liking... but the backup singers fill in the gaps.

5. Switzerland
The introduction is catchy but the song is boring... OUT. It's "Gold rains down" not "golden shower" Paddy!!!

6. Sweden*
A simple song- she has powerful vocals... not sure about her pronunciation of "stand" which is a bit annoying... but overall not a bad song... slightly boring a performance though.

7. Azerbaijan*
I see Azerbaijan playing the "pretty girl" card here... but her vocals are pretty strong too... a power pop ballad kind of song... the singer looks like a chubby Holly Valance... HAha...

8. Ukraine
Woah... what is with the hood... it starts off really scary... the song is pretty rubbish; it does kick off halfway and gets slightly better, but not enough to rectify the horrors of the beginning!

9. The Netherlands
A cute but gimmicky "prop" in the back but the song is pretty rubbish and seriously unappealing performance. OUT.

10. Romania*
Having seen a snippet on Tuesday on their unique one of a kind piano, I have to say I am intrigued in this performance. I have to say the song is pretty catchy... although the operatic bit with the woman was a bit odd....

11. Slovenia
Within two seconds; the first few notes, I'm already siding with them going OUT. What kind of song is this... it is like a whole mash of randomness... definitely OUT. The girl is pretty! She looks like Cheryl Cole crossed with Rachel McAdams...

12. Ireland
A boring ballad... boring performance... the flute/recorder girl should go on to perform herself because that was the best part.

13. Bulgaria
WINGS AGAIN? Just sayin'! As much as I like the wings, the moment they ditched them, I knew this song was going DOWN... OUT. The fleshbaring men and women do not help at all...

14. Cyprus*
This guy with his guitar... hmm?? Reminds me of Belgium's Tom Dice who performed on Tuesday's semi-final. I guess it's just unlucky that he drew to be in this semi final, now everyone will compare him to Tom... but then again, good thing they're not in the SAME semi-final... Nonetheless, this song is also strong and pretty good... I like it, but not sure if it will get through!

15. Croatia
The girls could be Venus shaving advert models... but don't put them on the Eurovision stage! An alright song, but not good enough... compared to everything else.

16. Georgia
The song is quite good but not exciting enough... it gets better towards the end... not sure what all the dancing is all about... and the exposed torsos of her backup dancers are so unecessary- so obvious they are playing the "sex appeal" card- does not really work here...

17. Turkey
A very DIFFERENT song finishes this semi-final... doesn't really work for me... somewhat catchy song, but not my style... it might get through for its originality... what is with the crazy robotic girl at the back causing sparks... hmmm...

*songs I liked

Wow, so everyone has performed... and I have to say, most the ones I liked started the show... and there were quite a few good ones. This semi-final is definitely tougher! Anyway, the ones I think would get through are Lithuania, Armenia, Israel, Denmark, Switzerland, Azerbaijan, Romania, Cyprus, Georgia and Slovenia.

The 10 that got through to the final:
1. Georgia
2. Ukraine
3. Turkey
4. Israel
5. Ireland
6. Cyprus
7. Azerbaijan
8. Romania
9. Armenia
10. Denmark

I got 7/10 right again!!

NOO... Lithuania are out! They were funky... :( Oh well...
I guess Europe didn't like their sparkly underwear. It's a pretty good line up this year, and I cannot wait for Saturday's final!!!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Deja Vu DVD Review

I watched this before, but didn't really get it, and upon second viewing (real Déjà vu), I kind of do!!!

The DVD cover features the face of Denzel Washington, the ferry explosion and Paula Patton; and has an overall dark green, moody colour scheme. It works well to intrigue and grab attention- but looks very much like any other thriller, and could've been an alternative cover to Speed 2 or a modern day Titanic adaptation...

A ferry explodes in New Orleans and is decided to be a terrorist attack. Agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) investigates the scene, and is chosen to be part of a surveillance team, using technology that can view the past, exactly Four days, six hours and some seconds before. They only have one chance to look at the past as it contains way too much information, and the information comes from collected stream of video and audio surveillance technology. It is revealed later that it isn't just a surveillance mechanism, but an invisible bridge is formed between the past and the present, and that the past can perhaps be changed.

In this way the team is able to capture the bomber; all seems to be well but Agent Doug Carlin is not satisfied that all the people have died, and decides to alter the past. He sends himself back in time to make the changes necessary to change the day.

The physics of it is of course a load of rubbish, but accepting it for the sake of the film, there are still many questions that arise from the various parallel existances that will occur due to Agent Carlin's time travels. The solution (and explanation) to these alternate timelines can be found on the film's Wikipedia page, and upon seeing this visually really does aid to understand how it all worked.

Basically, only two timelines were shown in the film, but four existed, so without seeing the Wikipedia visual, most would be left confuzzled after the movie... and this also isn't addressed in the extra features.

Time skipping aside, the movie had lots of CSI-esque techniques and for crime thriller lovers, this is perhaps one for you, although the mix of sci-fi and technology might not help to confuse the average movie viewer. Nonetheless, there is enough action here to fuel any bored soul on a Saturday night, and at two hours long, the time passes quickly and effortlessly.

Denzel Washington- Agent Doug Carlin
Paula Patton- Claire Kuchever

Also stars Val Kilmer, Adam Goldberg, Elle Fanning (Dakota Fanning's sister) in a 2 second cameo and Bruce Greenwood.

Denzel Washington does a good job at being a detective, just like The Bone Collector. His calm, cool and collected persona works well again here, as well as cracking a few jokes here and there. He is also able to pull off the action scenes and is convincing as the overall "Hero".

Paula Patton doesn't do much at all, apart from be the victim from beginning to end. The film doesn't give her a lot of room to shine despite being the female lead, and is only till the end where she gets more action... atleast she got to hold a gun.

The DVD contains extended scenes and visual effects commentary... The film at 2 hours long does not really need those extended scenes, but for movie buffs, they'd like to see more of the movie...
One thing I have to criticise is that they didn't include a commentary or explanation to the timelines that exist in the story- the average person would not have been able to understand exactly how the alt-Doug's worked, and so it would've made this DVD SO much better instead of having people question and look on Wikipedia!

Overall the film was enjoyable. Having seen it twice, it definitely made more sense second time round, and having researched on Wikipedia how the plot and timelines really worked. Physics fallibility aside, there is great action and tension throughout and will excite and intrigue most people, if they don't get put off by the science jargon. The cast, led by Denzel Washington is mostly good, with Washington being the only one who really shines throughout. So for an exciting film (with inevitably added confusion), choose Déjà vu!

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Eurovision 2010 First Semi Final

So it's that time of year again... and here we have the first semi final for the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 in Oslo, Norway.

1. Moldova
An upbeat song- somewhat catchy... but got slightly annoying towards the end. I was distracted by ths their funky outfits... like their waistcoats though. :D

2. Russia
At first I was quite impressed with the emotion the singer portrayed through the song... but musically it was really annoying. . . especially at the end... and with that sketch in his hand which he threw away at the end- BAD... !

3. Estonia
What is with his English accent? It sounds really amateur and stupid... not impressed at all... which pub did he just jump out of and onto the stage! He sounds definitely drunk or worse, drugged!

4. Slovakia
Immediately having seen their outfits, they impose attention and are definitely interesting to look at. I cannot understand a word she's singing, but let's pretend she's singing about trees or elves or something. . . out of the ones so far, this isn't bad.

5. Finland
This is vaguely reminiscent of Christine Guldbrandsen's 2006 performance of Alvedansen in terms of dress and appearance... it is quirky but does itself no favours- not catchy enough, nor is it entertaining... It got annoying really quickly too. The violinist looks a bit like Helen Hunt with dark hair crossed with Paulina Poriskova.

6. Latvia
Why is this girl wearing a dressing gown? Her voice is annoying, screechy and not at all pleasing to my ears... NEXT PLEASE!

7. Serbia
I can't stop staring at his hair... He has the lower face of Sammi Cheng!! Song=crap... I can't stop thinking about Sammi Cheng seeing his face! Hahahaha!!! And the backup dancer has a bubblewrap dress = cool!

8. Bosnia and Herzegovina*
This is actually not bad compared to the others... quite catchy and dynamic... Like!

9. Poland
He has quite a nice voice, but the melody of this song isn't very appealing... it isn't the worst.. Woah... he's strangling a backup dancer! Props for some acting... but a bit strange....

10. Belgium*
A simple song... sounds nice- nothing AMAZING and doesn't sound very Eurovision... but nonetheless a nice song for outside of Eurovision. I think he needs to project his voice a bit more...

11. Malta*
A nice sounding intro- I thought her dress was on fire ... or her butt emits smoke... but her dress is nice... and the song is quite good... she is only 17? wow, well done to her! WOW, double points for a moving dress that is done by some crazy person... definitely shocked me at first- - the guy looks like skellig.

12. Albania
Don't like this- her accent is a bit annoying... and the song isn't catchy enough as that is supposed to be its only selling point. :(

13. Greece
Sounds horrible within seconds... and really stupid... cringe much! The OOMPA is such a turn off for this song.. badddd.. cringee...

14. Portugal*
A simple ballad, quite beautifully sung... nothing else much to say apart from her dress is beautiful- very regal...

15. FYR Macedonia
Quite a catchy song... did the dancers need to be so scantily clad? Makes him look like a real perv. The song is about being alone and getting over a lover, yet he has three girls all around him just dancing. . . . hmm... It sounds alright- just isn't visually appealing.

16. Belarus
The straight hair guy should not be allowed to sing alone... he sounds way better with the others.. the others are fine... this would make quite a good song... but the straight hair guy kind of ruins it. OH WOW- midway the womens' dresses pop out wings... what is this year's obsession with wings!? pretty cool though.

17. Iceland
An upbeat and catchy song... it'll prob get through for its upbeat-europop-ness... not one I like though.

*songs I liked

So now that they have all sung, its time for them to count the votes and for some interim performances... Anyway, the ones I think would get through are Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia, Poland, Belgium, Malta, Albania, Portugal, Belarus, Iceland.

The 10 that got through to the final:
1. Bosnia And Herzegovina
2. Moldova
3. Russia
4. Greece
5. Portugal
6. Belarus
7. Serbia (Sammi Cheng XD)
8. Belgium
9. Albania
10. Iceland

I got 7/10 corrrect- YAY... One of the ones I liked didn't get through (Malta) but the three I liked most DID get through so yay! Overall, an acceptable line up. I will be watching on Thursday to see what other the other countries bring to the table!

Scarlett Johansson at White House Correspondant's Dinner

Scarlett Johansson attended the White House Correspondants Dinner at the beginning of the month in a beautiful light pink Miu Miu dress with lots of detail and layers from the waist. Her hair was pulled back and let loose and she was stunning!! She just looks better and better. . .
Can this woman ever go wrong in the fashion department?

She attended with her twin brother, Hunter (I DIDN'T KNOW she had a twin brother!?)... he isn't as good looking as her obviously but not bad... they look cute together.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Phil Wickham- Heaven & Earth Album Review

Phil Wickham is a Christian singer and songwriter from California. Heaven & Earth is his fifth album, released in 2009.

~~~CD COVER~~~
The cover of the album is very much different to the ones we have seen previously, those being in dull colours. This is a bright, colourful cover, with a close up of Phil Wickham. "Heaven" is definitely portrayed, but not really "Earth", although the colour definitely reflects the more upbeat nature of this album.

The album contains twelve tracks, all written by Phil Wickham himself:

1. "Eden" 4.5/5
The first song of the album being called "Eden" definitely speaks of "Heaven" and gives great imagery of the Garden of Eden. The lyrics are synchronised into an upbeat and catchy song of a more pop nature and in a contemporary Christian genre that sets the tone and mood for the rest of the album.

2. "Coming Alive" 3.5/5
"Coming Alive" has hints of the Phil Wickham we've heard from "Cannons". This song has a "Delirious?"-like verse that transcends into an upbeat chorus. Again, it sounds more mainstream and appeals to a wider audience.

3. "Heaven & Earth" 4/5
The introduction to the album title song sounds like euphoria, and definitely has that mystery- the verse has a classic Phil Wickham feel. The bridge section is addictive where it goes: "take me somewhere higher". The chorus takes a while to get to (at two minutes), but after that it has a sheer brilliant sound.

Behind the song of "Heaven and Earth":

4. "The Time Is Now" 3.5/5
A cheery and quirky start that sounds likely folky brings back a guitar sound we haven't yet heard on this album, but is very limited. It has a stripped back sound and lets Phil's voice shine through- an interesting song that gets better as it progresses; the chorus is exciting and joyful.

5. "Hold On" 5/5
"Dance" and a synthetic sounding intro starts what is one of the best songs on the album. It is upbeat yet strong in sound and voice. Again, it has a "Delirious?" feel to it. Although it sounds mainstream, there is quirkiness and uniqueness that can be found every now and then. Nonetheless, I love this song!

6. "Safe" (featuring Bart Millard) 4.5/5
A slightly softer song that breaks into a stronger chorus. The lyrics are encouraging and comforting. Again, the sound is more synthetic, upbeat and cheery. The dynamics increase gradually as the song progresses, an aspect that we often find with Phil Wickham's music, and it definitely works well here, building up into a beautiful song.

7. "I'll Always Love You" 4/5
Initially I wasn't too fond of this song, but it has definitely grown on me. The verse has a unique song and the chorus is strong, initially soft, but the second and third choruses are really powerful and strong. It is beautiful lyrically, with a line "You are Heaven I am Earth" perhaps explaining the album cover.

8. "In Your City" 4.5/5
A typical contemporary Christian sounding verse explodes into an exciting chorus. This song again has great imagery about Heaven and the sound of it is as exciting as it "looks".

9. "Your Arrival" 4.5/5
A weird sound starts this song. . . a bit like an airport PA buzzing... which detracts slightly from the exciting verse which turns into an upbeat pop sounding chorus- a happy and joyous sound.

10. "Because Of Your Love" 3.5/5
Again, here is a song with a more guitar based backing which has been rare in this album thus far. A soft and stripped back song that is slightly out of place musically; lyrically it is great.

11. "Cielo" 4/5
Cielo means Heaven or Sky in several European languages. An angelic sounding intro turns into a ballad sounding verse. There is a slightly mellow tone which turns into a more exciting one as the song progresses... the melody, lyrics and everything is great.

12. "Heaven Song" 4.5/5
The last song on the album is another guitar-found song. It is soft and simple, with beautiful lyrics- a bit Chris Tomlin sounding... It is a beautiful finish to the album.

TRACKS TO LOVE: Hold On, Safe, In Your City

The album is extremely focussed in the message it is trying to convey. Heaven is a recurring theme we find in many of the songs, and the admiration of God and the imagery we get from the lyrics is phenomenal.

"Heaven and Earth" has a very different sound to "Cannons". This is even more mainstream and has an overall pop / synthetic sound, opposed to the stripped back, simple guitarring we are familiar with. By no means is this bad; it shows that Phil Wickham is extremely diverse, and this side is just as exciting as the guitar side. Nonetheless, I prefer the guitar sound of Phil's previous albums.

Overall, this is arguable Phil's best album to date. Despite fewer POWER tracks (songs that I just LOVE and catch onto upon first hearing) on here than "Cannons", the overall message, themes, sound and coherency is sublime. Most of the songs are extremely good, and there is a degree of variation and change so we won't get bored easily. I am eager to see how he will top this- perhaps a combination of the guitar and the synthetic sounds.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Google gone Pac-Man?

So today Google has once again gone retro, but instead of a static front page image, it is an interactive Pac-Man game... for Pac-Man's 30th birthday! I think its sheer awesome that it is interactive and it even comes with retro sounds (it is slightly overwhelming though)!

Nonetheless, it is great and is definitely a step up to see more interactive front pages, gifs and other things... I can't wait to see how Google will top this one and shock us again with their creativity on the home page.

Personally I suck at Pac-Man and died so quickly... cleared half the stage only to be possessed by the red ghost. Darn it. How did you fare?

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Phil Wickham- Cannons Album Review

Phil Wickham is a Christian singer and songwriter from California. Cannons is his third album, released in 2007.

~~~CD COVER~~~
The CD cover has a sepia toned image of Phil Wickham on a rowing boat on a lake with reeds. The stylish yet simple font of the title in the centre has light radiating from behind. This album called Cannons is inspired by the very thing; Phil also taking inspiration from The Chronicles of Narnia- the record is about the universe exploding for the glory of God.

The album contains twelve tracks as follows, all written by Phil Wickham himself:

1) "Must I Wait" 5/5
A very mysterious sounding intro is followed by a rocky verse and chorus. Again, this is an upbeat and catchy song which I absolutely love and is one of my favourite songs on this album. There is a "Delirious?" feel to the song but Phil makes it his own. Lyrically stunning, the song speaks of waiting for the day to come, when we can all rejoice in Heaven.

2) "After Your Heart" 5/5
The keyboard intro leads to a catchy and rocky verse, yet explodes into a pop chorus. This mix of a shouty verse and a softer chorus works well here, and the overall sound is addictive and fun. The lyrics are amazingly inspirational and create some immense images.

3) "Desire" 4/5
The song is strong and has a "Keane" sound to it. It is a great track that has longevity and you can listen to this pretty much all the time. Again, the lyrics are heartfelt and genuinely written.

4) "Cannons" 4/5
Soft rock is the genre of the title song "Cannons". The chorus sounds like a typical worship song chorus, whilst the verse has slightly more edge. It is a good song, with fantastic lyrics that reflect what Phil wants to express through the album. The song progresses to a stronger level at the bridge.

5) "Sailing on a Ship" 4/5
The first thing I notice is the amazing imagery that I am filled with through the words. The verse itself isn't that grabbing, but the softness leads onto an interesting and quirky chorus that sets this song apart from the rest.

6) "The Light Will Come" 3.5/5
This soft track is stripped back and is acoustic. It has a nice melody but does not have the explosive quality of the other tracks we have heard so far. Lyrics are great though.

7) "Shining" 3.5/5
"Shining" brings us a fun and pop sounding intro that does not follow- The verse is softly sung but has an upbeat backing that matches better with the chorus. Midway we are reintroduced to the fun pop sound of the chorus and from then on, the song is pure brilliant.

8) "Beautiful" 3.5/5
Whilst this song also has a soft verse, it gradually builds up to a more dynamic sound. It isn't obvious and is subtly catchy. It is a beautifully written song of admiration to God.

9) "True Love" 5/5
The song definitely has a classic love song intro, a soft verse which breaks into a catchy chorus that isn't typical at all, and has more of a rock quality to it. The lyrics again are phenomenal.

10) "Jesus, Lord of Heaven" 4/5
This song has been translated into seven different languages. The chorus is simply phenomenal due to its amazing lyrics: "Your love is deeper... than any ocean higher... than the heavens reaches... beyond the stars in the sky..." and its wonderful upbeat sound.

11) "Home" 5/5
The quirky sound of the verse is stripped back and is focussed on Phil's vocals... which progresses to a more dynamic sound and an explosive chorus. The song is about the Prodigal son's return to his father, and this song is just so beautiful and meaningful.

Listen to "Home":

Behind the song:

12) "Spirit Fall" 3.5/5
The last song on the album is a strong track with an upbeat chorus. I think perhaps "Home" would be a more appropriate finish to the album, but nonetheless a good song.

TRACKS TO LOVE: Must I Wait, After Your Heart, True Love, Home
TRACKS TO SKIP: I can honestly say every song is great- none is skip worthy

The album on the whole has a more mainstream sound, which works phenomenally well. My only critique on his previous album was the lack of a modern sound; this album is full of it. This album is stunning and is perfected lyrically, vocally and musically.

I can only urge you to buy this and experience the wonderful sound that is written, performed and sung by Phil Wickham himself; the lyrics provide great encouragement and has beautiful words that have not failed to inspire me and see the beauty of God's glory.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Phil Wickham- Phil Wickham Album Review

Phil Wickham is a Christian singer and songwriter from California, with this self titled album released in 2006, succeeding an independently released record called Give You My World in 2003.

~~~CD COVER~~~
For his self-titled album, the cover looks artistically stylish and really quite modern. In black and white, it features a blurred image of Phil Wickham's profile. It is a simple, but effective shot and definitely reflects well on the album.

The album contains eleven tracks, all written by Phil Wickham himself:

1) "Grace" 5/5
The intro to the song has a beautiful acoustic feel, matched by the soft, slightly rough voice of Phil Wickham; the verse builds up to a dramatic and heartfelt chorus. This is an amazing start to the album, and my favourite song on it.

2) "Messiah" 3.5/5
This song is another soft song. It isn't immediately catchy, and at first I thought it flat. However, there is a gradual increase in dynamics as the song progresses; we get a pretty upbeat sound and a powerful vocal ending.

3) "Mystery" 3.5/5
I've grown to like this song. The overall sound is quite predictable and classic in this genre, but his vocals are fantastic... I'm not so sure about the Oriental sounding Xylophones? Nonetheless, the overall track is powerful and meaningful.

4) "Divine Romance" 3.5/5
The song is a simple acoustic track, with pure vocals and guitar. Whilst this sounds like it should be 5/5, I'm not totally into it. Its good, but lacks a modern edge to it...

5) "Yours Alone" 4/5
The intro of the song has an upbeat and catchy rhythm, with the verse being slightly less than wonderful, but reaching that energetic high in the chorus- making this another strong track.

6) "I Will Wait For You There" 3.5/5
Another acoustic track. What adds to this one is the audible guitar slides during chord changes, which adds a positive raw, unedited feel to the track... for that an extra ½ a star!

7) "I Adore You" 3/5
The upbeat intro translates into a rather shouty song, which has a few nice sounding elements, but overall, not one that can be listened again and again...

8) "Always Forever" 4/5
This simple and raw track is beautiful. The lack of a strong beat and stripped back guitarring allows Phil to voice out passionately and genuinely. The chorus is especially powerful.

9) "Crumble To Pieces" 4.5/5
Crumble to Pieces has a modern pop sounding introduction, the verse and chorus also has this feel... This is another of my favourite tracks, there is something quirky with the melody of the verse- which I LOVE.

10) "Fall Into You" 4/5
A powerful song with a "Delirious?-like" introduction and chorus. Phil's vocals are again phenomenal, and the song has a real strong sound to it.

11) "Holy, Holy, Holy" 3.5/5
This is another song that has a quirky sound to it... it isn't one of my favourites, and is yet to grow on me, but I'm sure it may one day do so... it sounds fun and chirpy.

TRACKS TO LOVE: Grace, Yours Alone, Crumble To Pieces
TRACKS TO SKIP: None of the tracks are skip-worthy, but some just cannot be listened again and again, and sometimes you can grow a bit bored of some tracks.

I didn't mention lyrics in each song, because they are simply beautiful, meaningful and so encouraging. They are written with a genuine and passionate heart, which could be felt through every sung word.

Phil Wickham has an amazing gift. His vocals are powerful, with a natural raw sound to them. The album contains an array of beautifully written tracks; all are meaningful and encouraging. I love his vocals on there, I love the lyrics, but there is something about the acoustic nature of the tracks that sound slightly outdated. I'm sure had I got this in 2006, I would've LOVED IT, but listening to it now, there is a modern edge that is lacking in some tracks. Nonetheless, a few tracks do have that longevity and can be listened to anytime (Grace, Crumble To Pieces).

The whole album is strong, with a few powerful tracks. He can only improve, and as we can see in future albums, he only gets better and better!

Check out "Grace" live below:

London 2012 Olympic Games Mascots

So the Olympic Mascots for London 2012 Olympic Games were revealed today... They are called Wenlock and Mandeville- The orange one is Wenlock and the blue one Mandeville. I think they are quite cute seeing them in the short animation. . . but seeing them as costumes- they are HIDEOUS... I think they are pretty random and there is too much going on... it is trying to be too much...

For example, the head torch things are inspired by London Taxi lights... WHY? Is that the most defining thing of London?? Why does only ONE of them have friendship hands/coloured bands... when both of them should convey a friendly image?

ANYWAY, what is most confusing of all is why one is blue and one is orange..? Where did that come from- why are they aliens and why do they ride on rainbows!?

It was obvious our mascots would never beat the amazing mascots of Beijing 2008... but atleast they could've done better. I googled Olympic mascots and found the following image, which I think looks pretty cool. The animals themselves need to be refined, but the idea of one colour per mascot is genius and the pattern of the 2012 on it makes it much more bearable than seeing it on its own. . . Ah well... What do YOU think of the mascots?

Mia Liu Artist

I thought Jen Stark would be one of few whose artwork would immediately inspire. Now I have found another: Mia Liu.

Mia Liu is a Chinese artist who creates these phenomenal sculptures by arranging identically printed card in a circular pattern to create dynamic designs when viewed on the side. They are truly stunning, and are really clever.

The initial cyclical designs has also been developed to include things coming out, two dimensional and three dimensional... although the ones that I like the most are the basic designs through layering, and the way she uses the depth of the ink on each individual piece of card/pamphlet to create depth when viewed to the side...

Just check it out and be STUNNED.


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