Photo — Valerie Mariya

A jukebox poem for Valentine’s Day.

I may not always love you,

Sweet wonderful you,

You make me happy with the things you do.

My gift is my song, and this one’s for you.

Take my hand,

Take my whole life too,

Time after time;

Especially for you.

If every word I said, could make you laugh,

I’d talk forever.

Time after time, there’s nowhere to hide;

Your love I’ll remember forever.

My love is alive,

Way down in my heart,

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day;

Although we are miles apart.

If you’re lost, you can look and you will find me,

Time after…

Photo by Gayatri Malhotra

An Irreverent playlist to help you celebrate Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Back in Black — AC/DC

Joe Biden has been in and out of politics for the last 50 years, and has previously been Vice President, so it is only fitting that this AC/DC thumper kicks off the playlist to welcome him back to the White House.

Grandpa (Tell me ’Bout the Good Old Days)— The Judds

Grandpa Joe is going to become the US’s Grandpa in chief, so this laid back tune should give all the Grandfather feels for the next 4 years.

Pick up the Pieces — Average White Band

This song made it onto the official Biden/Harris playlist, so its only right that its on this one. …

Photo courtesy Engin Akyurt

The Boris Johnson government has made it clear that it is unwilling to support the Arts in time of crisis, so what does that mean for the future of the Arts as we know it?

Everything about the Covid-19 situation and the Arts makes for grim viewing. You don’t have to try very hard to find a statistic about the importance of the Arts, or about how much money the government is pumping into saving everything worth saving in the UK, yet when you can find scathing reports like this as close to home as on the actual UK Parliament page then you know there must be something wrong. This report alone has some astounding statistics and facts about the arts, for example that more people attend the theatre per year than a league football…

kjpargeter / Freepik

For many people the worst thing about the festive season is the repetitive songs that you cannot get away from, be it in the supermarket or in the local shop. The Christmas season, however, has some of the best songs and pieces of music, you just have to find them. I have compiled an antidote to Mariah Carey and Slade; ten songs that imbue all of the festivity and none of the boredom. (I’ve even included the Spotify Playlist link at the end)

Something Funny- The Season’s Upon Us - Dropkick Murphys

This boozy expletive-laden crack is a flippant assessment of what we all maybe think or do at some point, but aren’t allowed to say in front of Granny. Lyrics like “My nephew’s a horrible, wise little twit/He once gave me a nice gift wrapped box full of shit” ensure that the song will go down a treat after dark.

Something Instrumental- A Christmas Festival - Leroy Anderson

Leroy Anderson was the American master of orchestral music in the early to mid 20th Century. His orchestral arrangements are even with…

Is UK music education over?

The issue of music teaching in the UK has a varied understanding amongst the British public. In arty circles, increasing funding cuts are widely known, but the position of the arts in general in education is understated and quietly swept away by schools, councils and communities.

The Arts seems to sit in this weird purgatory between being adored by the public and the nation, and woefully inadequately funded by government and local councils. The Arts Council of England report that the arts attract at least £856 million in tourist spending, and there are obvious examples of British artists representing on the world stage. Of the 7 best selling music artists by reputed sales, 4 were British; only this week, Banksy’s Happy Choppers was put up for auction in America for a 6 figure sum, so why does Britain not fund its arts education?

There are clearly…

West Side Story

Leonard Bernstein’s timeless musical story of love and gang violence is and always will be a landmark piece of musical theatre and art.

The 1957 Musical groundbreaker West Side Story is a crucial milestone in the history of music and musical theatre. Brought to fruition by a sea of names including (in no particular order!) Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins- all giants in the world of music and musical theatre- it is a story that despite a seemingly archaic plot continues to inspire and be an ideological food-for-thought in 21st Century America. But why?

The West Side sound embodies everything that we now think of as “the American sound”. Bernstein’s work with Aaron Copland and study of George Gershwin is…

Hair embraces sexuality, gender and ethnicity in a way not often seen in the mainstream musical.

Last month it was announced that the musical Hair would be the latest show to be given the live treatment by NBC, so I thought it was a good chance to revisit it, and explain why I think it is the best musical ever.

Galt MacDermot’s Hair is similar to many musicals of its era, with structure and length akin to its peers. It immediately sets itself apart from more traditional musicals though, with its cool, laidback jazzy opening Aquarius. Slowburning and full of youthful attitude, it stands out as a much deeper piece than can normally be expected in a musical. While avoiding the familiar “fabulousness” of an opening number, Aquarius still provides a catchy memorable opening that sets the stage and theme for the next two hours. …

Kendrick Lamar - DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

There has been much talk over the last few days about the use of that ’n’ word. A controversial minefield often avoided by commentators and critics, it is an issue that has been around for some decades.

This was of course ignited this week by coverage of Kendrick Lamar seemingly inviting a white fan onto the stage, only for her to be kicked off for rapping the ’n’ word, having begged to be allowed to stay.

On reflection, it may well be a cleverly orchestrated publicity plan, but we will probably never know. What we do know is that at one end of the scale, use of the ’n’ word is acceptable, and widely (arguably over) used, whilst at the other end, if you aren’t a black rapper you can say the word under no circumstances. Now…

What are the similarities between Bach and Daft Punk?

The Baroque period is widely acknowledged as the fundamental basis that modern music is based on. With the emergence of functional harmony, elaborate use of motif and a set bassline, the period set the precedent for the next few hundred years. While much has changed since then, and there are arguably such huge similarities between the structures and musical devices between then and now, it is rare to see a modern artist whose compositional techniques are as akin to Bach’s as Daft Punk.

For me, the parallels between the style of Daft Punk, and traditional Baroque works have been very clear, albeit surprising. When you listen to Daft Punk’s work, it immediately draws you in in the same way that Baroque pieces do: with an initial strong melody:

B.1 Bach, English Suite I Gigue b.1–3

Sam Smith’s The Thrill Of It All

Smith continues to dominate neo-crooner genre.

The long-awaited second album from Sam Smith was released this week, and is no change to form for him.

The Thrill Of It All is in very much the same format as Smith’s debut album three years ago, In the Lonely Hour, but takes a much more stylised, in-depth approach. Where ITLH was a self-deprecating piece exploring the trials and heartbreak of breakup and being “the other guy”, The Thrill Of It All maintains the sombre output, but takes a much deeper, emotional tone. Whilst this might seem impossible to do for anyone who listened to the first album and…

Sam Marshall

Freelance musician and writer. Specialising in Disco and Pop.

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