Stuff I like about my parents’ house #5: original GPO 746

I’ve blogged before about my replica GPO 746 landline phone.  It’s a good replica, but nothing beats the feel of dialling on the real deal.  This black version, which sits on Mum and Dad’s hall table and has done since before I was born, is the real deal.

Original GPO 746
An original GPO 746.

It came with the house when Mum and Dad bought it in 1982, so we assume it dates from the ’70s.  It still works fine.  In fact, there have been times when the house has had a power cut, and because of the way that phone is connected up, it still works despite the power cut.  My brother and I discovered this once when housesitting/catsitting for Mum and Dad and trying to find a way to order pizza while the electric company were digging something up on the other side of the street.

There have been a couple of hall tables in that spot while our family has lived there, but only ever one phone.  Good old black 746.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #95

Day 95, and we’re at Now! #95, which was released on 18th November 2016.

November 2016
This is how the world looked in November 2016. Running was much harder when I was bigger (you can see the tailrunner just behind me, which means I was the last finisher out of several hundred people…again), but I’m a stubborn cow and I still went out and did it every week. (Photo by Maggie Davison at Newcastle parkrun.)

Time for some party season hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #95
Track 1: James Arthur – Say You Won’t Let Go

I can’t stand this one!  It’s so saccharine, and the theme just sits really awkwardly with me.

Track 2: Little Mix – Shout Out To My Ex

Great solid piece of pop – really like this.

Track 3: Clean Bandit, Sean Paul and Anne-Marie – Rockabye

The Christmas number one for 2016 – and, notably, the first Christmas number one since 1999 that wasn’t either a charity single or a talent show winner.  It’s a good song – although I find the theme too cheesy – but really I like this one for the hilarious bit in the video where all the old dudes in the pub mime along to Sean Paul’s vocals.

Track 4: The Chainsmokers and Halsey – Closer

It’s a bit repetitive, but I quite like this tune.  The lyrics are pretty daft though!

Track 5: Major Lazer, Justin Bieber and Mø – Cold Water

It’s an okay tune, but it’s a bit generic.

Track 6: Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj – Side To Side

Great piece of pop – love the rhythm on this.

Track 7: Sia – The Greatest

I find the chorus really grating, but the tune on the verses is okay.

Track 8: Calvin Harris – My Way

Nothing to do with the Frank Sinatra song.  This one’s got an irritating tune, and is very repetitive.

Track 9: Hailee Steinfeld, Grey and Zedd – Starving

Cheesy, too slow, and the lyrics are a bit awkward.

Track 10: MO – Who Do You Think Of?

This is the girl group MO, not to be confused with the solo singer Mø who also appears on this Now! compilation (twice).  This is a good, danceable pop tune – quite like this one.

Track 11: Neiked and Dyo – Sexual

Highly irritating tune, too high-pitched, awkward theme.  Not a fan.

Track 12: Anne-Marie – Alarm

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Anne-Marie on track 3.

Great atmosphere, but again I’m not keen on the theme.

Track 13: Olly Murs – You Don’t Know Love

I quite like this one – there’s a nice ’80s tinge to the backing track.

Track 14: Mø – Final Song

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Mø on track 5.

Pretty tune though, quite like this one.

Track 15: Maroon 5 – Don’t Wanna Know

The tune is super irritating, but the video, which parodies the Pokémon Go phenomenon, is great.

Track 16: JP Cooper – September Song

The chorus for this rips off the chorus of Jealous by Nick Jonas, so whenever I get one or the other stuck in my head it usually turns into an unwelcome mash-up.  The rest of the tune is just annoying.

Track 17: Shawn Mendes – Mercy

Too slow for me, but it’s an okay tune.

Track 18: Ellie Goulding – Still Falling For You

Dull, saccharine and irritating.

Track 19: Emeli Sandé – Hurts

Great tune, great atmosphere.  Really like this one.

Track 20: Michael Bublé – I Believe In You

Too cheesy for me.

Track 21: Craig David – All We Needed

The official Children In Need single for 2016 – and it’s finally something that’s not a cover!  I’m so glad the trend has finally shifted!

What I’m not glad about is that this track is super slow.  The piano’s nice, though.

Track 22: Drake, Wizkid and Kyla – One Dance

This was number one for fifteen weeks in the summer of 2016, equalling the second place for longest-lasting number one held by Wet Wet Wet since 1994 for Love Is All Around.  I found this really interesting – because I have clear memories of the Wet Wet Wet chart run from when I was nine, I was able to compare the way fifteen weeks felt as a child versus as an adult.  It went a lot quicker as an adult, because time always does (I’m a firm believer in the theory that we are constantly subconsciously comparing intervals of time to our total life so far, which is why time just gets faster and faster as you age), but it also felt like I did and achieved more, probably because I was running and working so much during that summer.

Anyway, the track.  It’s got a good beat, and the tune’s okay, but it certainly didn’t deserve to be number one for fifteen weeks.  Thankfully it didn’t equal or beat Bryan Adams’ 1991 record of sixteen weeks for Everything I Do (I Do It For You), so that still stands.

Track 23: DJ Snake and Justin Bieber – Let Me Love You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on track 5.

This tune is almost unbearably irritating and cheesy.  Not my thing at all.

Track 24: Fifth Harmony – That’s My Girl

The tune’s a bit annoying, but it’s got a good rhythm.

Track 25: Sigma and Birdy – Find Me

Too slow, but the atmosphere’s okay.

Track 26: Martin Garrix and Bebe Rexha – In The Name Of Love

Pretty tune on the vocals, but the electro hook annoys me.

Track 27: Nevada, Mark Morrison and Fetty Wap – The Mack

This is the second ’10s cover version of Mark Morrison’s 1996 hit Return Of The Mack, after the one by Mann, Iyaz and Snoop Dogg in 2011 (which was also called The Mack).  It doesn’t really add anything to the original.

Track 28: Tieks and Dan Harkna – Sunshine

It’s got a good beat, but the tune annoys me.

Track 29: Zara Larsson – Ain’t My Fault

Okay tune, but the theme is really problematic.

Track 30: Bob Marley & The Wailers, Lvndscape and Bolier – Is This Love

Semi-cover of the 1978 classic, with some dance rhythms over the top.  It’s got a good atmosphere, but it can’t touch the original.

Track 31: Digital Farm Animals, Cash Cash and Nelly – Millionaire

Irritating kiddie-style vocals on the chorus, and the tune annoys me.

Track 32: Snakehips and Zayn – Cruel

Forgettable tune, boring vocals.

Track 33: Matoma and Becky Hill – False Alarm

Another bland tune.

Track 34: Galantis and Hook ‘N’ Sling – Love On Me

I’ve never been keen on the vocals on this one, which sound to me like someone is faking a Scottish accent.

Track 35: Charli XCX and Lil’ Yachty – After The Afterparty

Irritating tune, but I quite like the theme.

Track 36: Dua Lipa – Blow Your Mind (Mwah)

Good beat, annoying chorus.

Track 37: Louisa Johnson – So Good

Good solid piece of pop with a great atmosphere.  Not keen on the theme though.

Track 38: James TW – When You Love Someone

Pretty tune, but it’s a bit too slow and acoustic-y for me.

Track 39: Wilkinson and Karen Harding – Sweet Lies

I find this tune very generic, and the beat is like every other dance track this decade.

Track 40: Craig David and Sigala – Ain’t Giving Up

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Craig David on track 21.

I quite like the tune and the tinkly instrumentals, but the chorus is kind of annoying.

Track 41: Charlie Puth – Dangerously

Good atmosphere, but it’s a little too high-pitched for me and the theme’s a bit saccharine.

Track 42: Offaiah – Trouble

Very repetitive tune, not keen.

Track 43: Christine & The Queens – Tilted

Good, interesting track.  I really like the instrumentals on this one, and there’s something lovely and classic about the vocals.

Track 44: Lady Gaga – Perfect Illusion

I like the rock edge on this one.

Track 45: Niall Horan – This Town

Saccharine acoustic ballad, and I don’t like the theme.  In short, it’s pretty much everything I dislike.

2018 Ciders #39: Aspall

Still shopping the Sainsbury’s cider aisle!

Aspall
Aspall.

Aspall is another cider that’s very light and refreshing, so good for this time of year.  The taste is a bit generic, but it’s not bad – it’s perfectly serviceable, and I’m always happy to have it if it’s on draught at the pub or on sale in the supermarket.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #94

Day 94, and Now! #94, which came out on 22nd July 2016.

July 2016
This is the way the world looked in July 2016. Geth and I were in Bents Park, South Shields, to see Lindisfarne and the Proclaimers doing an open-air gig, and it was a very typical British summer’s day of the type that required both suncream and an umbrella.

Sadly, I don’t think we’ll hear either Lindisfarne or the Proclaimers on this particular Now! compilation, though the latter have appeared twice in the past.

Now! That's What I Call Music #94
Track 1: Calvin Harris and Rihanna – This Is What You Came For

Lovely tune, good solid dance track.

Track 2: Justin Timberlake – Can’t Stop The Feeling

Geth adores this upbeat party song.  I find it a little irritating.

Track 3: Kungs and Cookin’ On 3 Burners – This Girl

I find this perky summer tune really grating.

Track 4: Sia and Sean Paul – Cheap Thrills

Much as I like Sean Paul’s vocal style, I prefer the Sia solo version of this song, which is one of my favourite pop tracks of the decade.  This version’s still fantastic though.

Track 5: Fifth Harmony and Ty Dolla Sign – Work From Home

The tune’s a bit generic, but it’s nice and danceable.

Track 6: DNCE – Cake By The Ocean

I love this one!  They were playing it in the pub after my first Great North Run in 2016, and I’ll always associate it with that day.  Wonderful tune.

Track 7: Clean Bandit and Louisa Johnson – Tears

Another lovely tune, and it builds beautifully.  Great stuff.

Track 8: Little Mix and Sean Paul – Hair

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Sean Paul on track 4.

Great beat – it’s a bit of a messy track otherwise, though.

Track 9: The Chainsmokers and Daya – Don’t Let Me Down

The tune’s a bit irritating, but it’s got a good atmosphere.

Track 10: Justin Bieber – Company

It’s got a nice beat, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 11: Calum Scott – Dancing On My Own

Utterly depressing.

Track 12: Pink – Just Like Fire

I like the tune, but it’s a little too acoustic-y for me.

Track 13: Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman

Great atmosphere – I just wish it were a bit more upbeat.  Love the rock guitar though.

Track 14: Nick Jonas and Tove Lo – Close

I really like those steel drums on the intro, but the vocals are a bit bland.

Track 15: Meghan Trainor – No

I like the theme on this one, even if it’s a bit more serious than I personally like my pop to be.  Good rhythm too.

Track 16: Shawn Mendes – Treat You Better

Urgh, I can’t stand this ‘nice guy’ anthem!  Irritating tune, appalling theme.

Track 17: Years & Years and Tove Lo – Desire

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Tove Lo on track 14.

Good beat, forgettable tune.

Track 18: Sigma and Take That – Cry

I find the tune a bit generic, which I wouldn’t normally expect from Take That in any incarnation.

Track 19: Bastille – Good Grief

Really like the bassline at the start, and the tune on the vocals is great too.

Track 20: Viola Beach – Boys That Sing

Nice jaunty instrumentals on the intro, then it launches into some cheesy rhyming I can’t get behind.  The tune’s okay on the whole.

Track 21: Coldplay – Up And Up

Slow and boring.

Track 22: Gnash and Olivia O’Brien – I Hate U, I Love U

Annoying chorus, annoying rap verses, annoying theme.

Track 23: Drake – Hotline Bling

At my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding, my sister-in-law’s bridesmaids all sang a version of this with altered lyrics about the wedding couple, so it tends to be that version I think of when I hear this song.

Track 24: Galantis – No Money

I find this one insanely irritating – awful tune, appalling kiddie-sounding vocals.

Track 25: DJ Snake and Bipolar Sunshine – Middle

Slow and depressing.

Track 26: Desiigner – Panda

Great brooding atmosphere, but I could do with a bit more melody.

Track 27: Kent Jones – Don’t Mind

Irritating theme, irritating tune, irritating lyrics.  Not keen on this one at all.

Track 28: Cheat Codes and Kris Kross Amsterdam – Sex

Dodgy dance cover of Salt-N-Pepa’s ’90s hit Let’s Talk About Sex, with new verses in order to bastardise the original safe sex theme into one about general horniness.  Have I mentioned before that I hate this century?

Track 29: Sigala, Imani Williams and DJ Fresh – Say You Do

Boring tune on the vocals, but I quite like the instrumentals (steel drums again!).

Track 30: Blonde and Craig David – Nothing Like This

Nice beat, and the vocals are quite interesting, but the tune’s a bit repetitive.

Track 31: Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez – We Don’t Talk Anymore

Beautiful tune – really like this one.

Track 32: Ariana Grande – Into You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ariana Grande on track 13.

I’m a big fan of this song though – it’s probably my favourite Ariana Grande track.  Great solid piece of pop.

Track 33: David Guetta and Zara Larsson – This One’s For You

Not keen on this tune, but the track builds quite well.

Track 34: Jonas Blue and JP Cooper – Perfect Strangers

I’ve always found this tune really grating.

Track 35: Dua Lipa – Hotter Than Hell

Good beat, very danceable.

Track 36: Kygo and Kodaline – Raging

I quite like the guitar on this one, but it’s not upbeat enough for me.

Track 37: Selena Gomez – Kill ‘Em With Kindness

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Selena Gomez on track 31.

I quite like this tune though, even if the chorus is a bit repetitive.

Track 38: will.i.am and Pia Mia – Boys And Girls

Great beat on this one – happily nodding along right now.

Track 39: Reggie ‘N’ Bollie – New Girl

Daft theme and lyrics that I’m not wholly keen on.  The tune’s nice and feelgood, though, and I like the beat.

Track 40: Tinie Tempah and Wizkid – Mamacita

Love the Latin tinge on this one!  Great stuff.

Track 41: Craig David – One More Time

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Craig David on track 30.

I really like the rhythm and the vocal style, but the tune’s fairly bland.

Track 42: Sigala, John Newman, Nile Rodgers, Cedric Gervais and Laurent Simeca – Give Me Your Love

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Sigala on track 29.

That is a long list of artists for a not-especially-inspiring song.  The tune’s okay, but it’s nothing special.

New hair

Well…it’s not really new hair.  It’s my usual cut, just blowdried slightly differently, ’cause the hairdresser was experimenting.

New hair
Hair actually styled, as opposed to the usual rolled-out-of-bed-and-spiked-up-the-fringe-with-some-hairspray.

(I’ve only just noticed that my phone camera takes flipped images when in selfie mode.  I’m going to have to do something about that.)

The main difference I’ve noticed is that normally, when I have my hair dried at the salon with a diffuser, Geth says something like ‘oh, they did your hair all ’80s for you!’ and I have to explain that I didn’t actually ASK for my hair to look ’80s (mainly because I’d be scared of getting funny looks), it’s just the way the cut falls when it’s dried that way.  Today, the hairdresser did the curls with a brush and blowdryer instead.  Geth’s comment was ‘nice hair, Farrah Fawcett’, and I can’t work out if that’s meant to be a compliment or not.

It’s nice, but it has dropped in volume in the five hours since I had it done, which is an issue I often have with this type of blowdrying.  Back to my usual low-maintenance styling tomorrow.

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #93

Day 93 equals Now! #93, which came out on 18th March 2016.

March 2016
This is how the world looked in March 2016. Yes, it’s me at another goth gig (this time Resistanz), wearing the same T-shirt as in yesterday’s photo. I still miss Resistanz and its £1 cans of Somersby cider, though there’s no way I could drink as many of them as I used to these days (it used to be a forty-can weekend).

On with the hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #93
Track 1: Lukas Graham – 7 Years

It’s a nice tune, but I find the theme a bit irritating.

Track 2: Justin Bieber – Love Yourself

Another nice tune with an awkward theme.  It’s also too slow for me.

Track 3: Zayn – Pillowtalk

Zayn Malik’s first solo release since becoming the Robbie Williams/Geri Halliwell of One Direction and leaving the group about a year before they split ‘went on hiatus’.  It’s too slow for me, and the tune is pretty forgettable.

Track 4: Coldplay and Beyoncé – Hymn For The Weekend

Gorgeous tune – really like this one.

Track 5: Mike Posner – I Took A Pill In Ibiza [SeeB Remix]

Mike Posner returning to the charts with this surprise number one hit.  It’s a lovely chillout tune with a wistful theme.

Track 6: Zara Larsson – Lush Life

Solid danceable pop tune – big fan of this.

Track 7: Jonas Blue and Dakota – Fast Car

Dodgy house cover of the Tracy Chapman classic.  Should have left well alone.

Track 8: Shawn Mendes – Stitches

Pretty tune – quite like this one.

Track 9: Major Lazer, Nyla and Fuse ODG – Light It Up [Remix]

Boring tune, and it’s too slow for my liking.

Track 10: Snakehips, Tinashe and Chance The Rapper – All My Friends

Good singalong chorus, but it’s too slow for me.

Track 11: Little Mix and Jason Derulo – Secret Love Song

Horrendously saccharine and slow!  Not my kind of thing at all.

Track 12: Jess Glynne – Take Me Home

Irritating tune, and again it’s too slow.

Track 13: Ellie Goulding – Army

The tune’s quite interesting, but it’s a little too cheesy for me.

Track 14: One Direction – History

Too acoustic-y for me, but the tune’s okay.

Track 15: Selena Gomez – Hands To Myself

This tune doesn’t really do it for me, although there’s some interesting stuff going on with the backing track, and it’s got a good atmosphere.  The theme’s awful, though.

Track 16: Jason Derulo – Get Ugly

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Jason Derulo on track 11.

This one’s got a good rhythm and a slight retro tinge – I quite like it.

Track 17: Sigma and Rita Ora – Coming Home

I find this tune pretty uninspired.

Track 18: Elle King – Exes and Ohs

Great classic-sounding blues-tinged rock.  Really like this.

Track 19: Olly Murs – Stevie Knows

Love that retro-sounding funk.  Good stuff.

Track 20: Jack Garratt – Worry

Slow and boring, with some odd instrumentals that are very distracting.

Track 21: James Bay – If You Ever Want To Be In Love

Pretty tune, and it’s got quite a good rhythm.  I like the rock-edged guitar too.

Track 22: Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir – A Bridge Over You

This was the 2015 Christmas number one – a charity choral offering.  It was the first time, due to streaming becoming more popular than downloading, that the X Factor winner’s single didn’t really get a look in for the Christmas number one – in fact, Louisa Johnson’s Forever Young is not even included on this Now! compilation, which marks the first time since Steve Brookstein’s Against All Odds from 2005 that the X Factor song has been left out by the Now! compilers.

Anyway, this song is a dodgy mash-up of Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and Coldplay’s Fix You, but I’m sure it raised a lot of money for charity.

Track 23: Justin Bieber – Sorry

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Justin Bieber on track 2.

I love this song, though.  It’s the only Justin Bieber song I actually like, and it’s a cracker.

Track 24: The Weeknd – The Hills

Great atmosphere, but I’m not keen on the theme.

Track 25: Coldplay – Adventure Of A Lifetime

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Coldplay on track 4.

I find the warbly instrumentals on this one a bit irritating, but I do like the retro-tinged beat.

Track 26: 99 Souls, Destiny’s Child and Brandy – The Girl Is Mine

Mash-up of Destiny’s Child’s Girl and Brandy and Monica’s The Boy Is Mine (which was itself based on Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s The Girl Is Mine).  Brandy re-recorded her vocals, Monica didn’t, which I guess explains the credit.  I do quite like the electro lines on this track, and it’s not as messy as you would expect from a mash-up.

Track 27: Tinie Tempah and Zara Larsson – Girls Like

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Zara Larsson on track 6.

I quite like this one – it’s very danceable.

Track 28: Fleur East – Sax

I’m a big fan of this one, but you expected that, didn’t you?  Saxophone a-go-go.  I highly approve.

Track 29: Craig David and Big Narstie – When The Bassline Drops

The start of Craig David’s inexplicable but strangely welcome comeback!  This one’s got a good beat, and, as should probably be expected, a bit of an early ’00s tinge.

Track 30: David Guetta, Sia and Fetty Wap – Bang My Head

I find the beat on this one a bit jarring, and the tune’s pretty bland.

Track 31: Sigala and Bryn Christopher – Sweet Lovin’

Another forgettable tune, and I’m actually starting to get a bit fed up of the ’90s-inspired dance tracks now.

Track 32: Kygo and Maty Noyes – Stay

Again, this tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 33: Mount and Nicholas Haelg – Something Good

Not a cover of the Utah Saints track, which is probably for the best, given how many versions of that one have shown up on Now! compilations.  This one’s a dance track with some interesting instrumentals, but yet another generic, unmemorable tune.

Track 34: The Chainsmokers and Rozes – Roses

There’s a good atmosphere buried in there somewhere, but the track’s too messy to feel it, really.

Track 35: Alessia Cara – Here

Really don’t like this tune at all – I find it very grating.

Track 36: Alan Walker – Faded

Another slow, boring track.  The beat does pick up, but it doesn’t get any more interesting.

Track 37: G-Eazy and Bebe Rexha – Me, Myself And I

I quite like the rhythm on the vocals, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 38: Robin Schulz and Francesco Yates – Sugar

I like the guitar at the start, and it’s got a good beat.

Track 39: Dawin and Silentó – Dessert [Remix]

The lines on this are pretty jarring, and the tune’s nothing special.

Track 40: AlunaGeorge and Popcaan – I’m In Control

Irritating vocals, dull song.

Track 41: Twenty One Pilots – Stressed Out

I like the reggae-tinged beat, and the chorus is great – it gives the song an awesome eerie atmosphere.  Brilliant lyrics too.

Track 42: The 1975 – The Sound

Love that classic pop feel – big fan of this track.

Track 43: Charlie Puth – One Call Away

Pretty tune, but it’s too slow and saccharine for me.

Track 44: David Bowie – Heroes

1977 classic back in the charts after David Bowie’s passing.  I’m still sad about Bowie being gone even two and a half years later, and I wish I didn’t now associate this one with it being everywhere in early 2016.  The song is as beautiful as everything else he did.

Phone Box Thursday: Bishopgate Street, Leeds

Today our wander around Leeds town centre takes us to this modified phone box on Bishopgate Street.

Blue phone box
Blue phone box, Bishopgate Street, Leeds, 24th July 2016.

AQL are a telecommunications company, but I’m not sure if they’ve taken over this box for any purposes other than advertising.  Either way, it looks very nice with its blue coat of paint, rather like the Wetherspoon phone box from Waverley Bridge in Edinburgh.

That’s us done with Leeds for now.  Somewhere new next week!

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #92

Day 92 means Now! #92, which brings us to 20th November 2015.

November 2015
This is how the world looked in November 2015 – or how I looked, rather – because this was the year we started going down to London for the Beat:Cancer event in November. I honestly think I looked about fifteen years older when I was bigger, although my improved hair/makeup game has helped too.

Let’s see what the party tunes were that year!  No, they most certainly wouldn’t have been played at Beat:Cancer.

Now! That's What I Call Music #92
Track 1: Sam Smith – Writing’s On The Wall

It’s a Bond theme, so it’s got a good epic atmosphere, even if it is a slow Sam Smith song.

Track 2: Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean?

Not keen on the tune – it’s a bit depressing.

Track 3: The Weeknd – Can’t Feel My Face

Another tune that I don’t find particularly exciting.  The chorus has quite a good rhythm, though.

Track 4: Calvin Harris and Disciples – How Deep Is Your Love

The vocals on this one really irritate me.

Track 5: Naughty Boy, Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin – Runnin’ (Lose It All)

Too slow for my liking, and again the tune doesn’t do anything for me.

Track 6: Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor – Marvin Gaye

Great upbeat big-band-sounding pop – really like this tune.

Track 7: R City and Adam Levine – Locked Away

One of those songs that’s so dull I can’t concentrate on it.

Track 8: Rachel Platten – Fight Song

Too high-pitched for me – it gives me a headache.

Track 9: Jess Glynne – Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself

Irritating tune, but the beat’s okay.

Track 10: Olly Murs – Kiss Me

I like the ’80s-tinged synthy lines on this one.

Track 11: Ellie Goulding – On My Mind

Some really nice instrumentals on this track.

Track 12: Little Mix – Love Me Like You

I find this tune a bit irritating.

Track 13: One Direction – Drag Me Down

Good rhythm, and it builds quite well, but the tune is fairly uninspired.

Track 14: Demi Lovato – Cool For The Summer

I really like the synth on this one.

Track 15: Years & Years – Eyes Shut

Nice piano at the start, but it’s a little too slow for me.

Track 16: Grace and G-Eazy – You Don’t Own Me

Cover of the Lesley Gore song.  It was used in the 2015 House of Fraser Christmas advert, so now it’s a feature of the annual Christmas playlists on the music channels.  It’s an okay tune, but in general I find there’s too much going on in this track.

Track 17: Birdy – Wings

Good tune, though it’s a little too slow for me.

Track 18: Aurora – Half The World Away

Cover of the Oasis song, the original being best known as the theme tune to The Royle Family.  This was the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert offering.  It’s a pretty cover, but I find it a little depressing when it shows up on the music channels at Christmas time.

Track 19: Jamie Lawson – Wasn’t Expecting That

Too slow, cheesy and acoustic-y for my liking.

Track 20: Ed Sheeran – Photograph

Boring, depressing and again far too slow.

Track 21: Selena Gomez and ASAP Rocky – Good For You

Good atmosphere on this one, but as ever I could do with a more interesting tune.

Track 22: 5 Seconds Of Summer – She’s Kinda Hot

Good upbeat bit of pop-rock – the tune’s not that exciting but it’s refreshing to hear something in a different style.

Track 23: The Vamps – Wake Up

Great instrumentals, great atmosphere – shame the song is a bit too cheesy for me.

Track 24: KDA, Tinie Tempah and Katy B – Turn The Music Louder (Rumble)

Great danceable track – really like this tune.

Track 25: Galantis – Peanut Butter Jelly

Good beat, but the track’s pretty messy.  I do like the ’70s-tinged lines though.

Track 26: Sigala – Easy Love

Another song that’s too high-pitched – it’s quite painful to listen to.

Track 27: Martin Solveig and GTA – Intoxicated

I really like the rhythm on this one – very danceable.

Track 28: MNEK and Zara Larsson – Never Forget You

The vocals annoy me on this one.

Track 29: Diplo and Sleepy Tom – Be Right There

Not sure what I think about the interpolation of Jade’s 1992 hit Don’t Walk Away.  I hadn’t even thought about the original track in years.  It’s certainly the most interesting thing about this track, which is very generic otherwise.

Track 30: Felix Jaehn and Jasmine Thompson – Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better)

Interestingly tinkly cover of the Chaka Khan classic.  Obviously nothing can touch the original, but this version’s not horrible.

Track 31: Pia Mia, Chris Brown and Tyga – Do It Again

The beat’s okay, but it’s a pretty generic track.

Track 32: Rudimental and Ed Sheeran – Lay It All On Me

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ed Sheeran on track 20.

I quite like this tune, and it’s got a good rhythm.

Track 33: Sigma and Ella Henderson – Glitterball

Repetitive tune, not enough beat.  Quite like the ’90s tinge though.

Track 34: Disclosure and Sam Smith – Omen

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Sam Smith on track 1.

This one’s another dull tune – there’s just nothing interesting about it at all.

Track 35: Fetty Wap – Trap Queen

Interesting track with great rhythm, even if the tune is a bit repetitive.

Track 36: Format:B – Chunky

Irritating, messy dance track with painfully blaring vocals.

Track 37: WSTRN – In2

Starts off with some boring, random chords.  The vocals have got quite a good rhythm, though.

Track 38: Ariana Grande – Focus

Great beat, good solid pop tune.  Quite like this one.

Track 39: Silentó – Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)

I like the videogame-esque beeping on the backing track, but the vocals are daft in an annoying way.

Track 40: Joe Stone and Montell Jordan – The Party (This Is How We Do It)

Remix of Montell Jordan’s 1995 classic (see Now! #31 for review of the original version).  It’s got a good beat, but I was never a huge fan of the original anyway, and the remix has a lot of jarring lines going on.

Track 41: Nick Brewer and Bibi Bourelly – Talk To Me

Messy and uninspired, and the rap is just irritating.

Track 42: KSI and JME – Keep Up

Inspired theme!  Good atmosphere, too.

Track 43: Wretch 32, Anne-Marie and PRGRSHN – Alright With Me

Good rhythm – happily nodding along here.

Track 44: Philip George and Anton Powers – Alone No More

Cover of the 1998 song by Another Level.  Very repetitive, and it’s another bland tune.

Track 45: Kygo and Ella Henderson – Here For You

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Ella Henderson on track 33.

The tinkly instrumentals are nice, but the track is slow, and I don’t like slow.

Track 46: Ben Haenow and Kelly Clarkson – Second Hand Heart

Great atmosphere, but the song’s too saccharine for my liking.

Getting back to old habits

By the post title, I mean deliberately getting back into one, and trying not to get back into another!

The good one is reading.  As a child I was a voracious reader and the only time I didn’t have my nose in a book was when I was writing my own stories.  Then I grew up and the internet happened, and I went to university where I had to read nonfiction books for research all day long, and so my reading habits shifted from novels to blogs and forums, and my fiction-consuming habits shifted almost solely to TV shows and videogames.  I’ve never really fully got back into the habit of reading books, although I do make a concerted effort every few months – I’m fully aware that my own writing improves when I read actual published works rather than stuff on the internet, interesting as a lot of stuff on the internet is.  As such, for the last couple of weeks – ever since we got access to our books – I’ve been reading for an hour before bed.  Also, I got a Kindle for Christmas, and in the last week or so I’ve been filling it up with ebooks to read while I’m on holiday.  I’m looking forward to having some time for that again.

The bad habit – which I indulged in today but am not intending to repeat – is buying mounds of cheap clothing in Primark.  Since my wardrobe cull, it’s been very important to me that I don’t end up replacing the mounds of cheap and unwearable clothes with more mounds of cheap and unwearable clothes, and so the clothes I’ve been buying so far this year have been better quality investment pieces that I know will get lots of wear.  I realised that I don’t have enough lightweight summer clothes for my upcoming holiday though – in the UK climate you don’t usually need a lot of summer clothes, although the ones I do own have been seeing a lot of use during the heatwave we’ve been having for the last few weeks – and so I did break my Primark ban this morning.  I don’t expect the clothes will last long, but I know I’ll get a lot of use out of them this summer – and that I now have the de-hoarding mental strength to get rid of them when they do wear out, which is the important thing.

I’m nearly getting to the point where I have enough clothes again.  Not quite, but nearly!

(Books, on the other hand, I have far too many of – hence the Kindle, to make sure I don’t buy any more physical ones.)

Music Review: Now! That’s What I Call Music #91

Day 91 brings us to Now! #91, which was released on 24th July 2015.

July 2015
This is the way the world looked in July 2015. The South of France was predictably warm, and we were enjoying the holiday gîte that Mum and Dad had rented – with plenty space for the six of us, although Geth and I only overlapped with Malcolm and Steff for the one night. Looking forward to another family get-together very soon!

On with the summer hits!

Now! That's What I Call Music #91
Track 1: Ellie Goulding – Love Me Like You Do

Irritatingly saccharine ballad, made worse by being from the soundtrack of the Fifty Shades Of Grey movie.

Track 2: Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth – See You Again

Pretty tune on the chorus, and it’s got a good atmosphere.  Quite like this one.

Track 3: OMI and Felix Jaehn – Cheerleader

Nice upbeat pop song – big fan of this.

Track 4: Jason Derulo – Want To Want Me

Another solid pop tune.  Great danceable track.

Track 5: Little Mix – Black Magic

It’s got a good beat, but I’m not keen on the tune.

Track 6: Tinie Tempah and Jess Glynne – Not Letting Go

I like the ’90s tinge, but the tune’s pretty dull.

Track 7: Major Lazer, DJ Snake and Mø – Lean On

That chorus should annoy me, but I actually quite like it.

Track 8: Years & Years – Shine

Interesting rhythm, and there’s a nice ’80s synthy tinge to the electro lines.

Track 9: Aston Merrygold – Get Stupid

Great mid-century retro sound, great upbeat tune.  Good track.

Track 10: Walk The Moon – Shut Up And Dance

I love this one – it’s a fantastic rock-edged party song that sounds like it dropped straight out of the ’80s!  A favourite.

Track 11: Rita Ora – Poison

Quite like this tune, though I could do without the jarring instrumentals on the chorus.

Track 12: Natalie La Rose and Jeremih – Somebody

Very irritating interpolation of Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody, which I can’t really get past.  The rest of the track’s just bland.

Track 13: Nick Jonas – Jealous

I’ve always been torn about the lyric ‘it’s my right to be hellish/I still get jealous‘.  On the one hand it’s super creepy and abusive and squicky.  On the other hand, it’s a fantastic rhyme in a musical landscape where lyricism is not a strong point.

To sum up: awful theme, great danceable tune.

Track 14: John Newman – Come And Get It

Love that ’80s-feel funk on the backing track.  I’m starting to sense a welcome theme to this Now! compilation!

Track 15: Ed Sheeran and Rudimental – Bloodstream

I quite like the tune on this one.

Track 16: Carly Rae Jepsen – I Really Like You

Nice upbeat pop song, even if it is a bit cheesy.

Track 17: Meghan Trainor – Dear Future Husband

The theme’s a bit awkward, but it’s a good tune.

Track 18: Iggy Azalea and Jennifer Hudson – Trouble

I like the instrumentals, and it’s got a good rhythm.

Track 19: Jessie J – Flashlight

Too slow and ballad-y for me.

Track 20: James Bay – Let It Go

I like the guitar at the start, but the vocals annoy me.

Track 21: Florence & The Machine – Ship To Wreck

I find the chorus on this one pretty irritating, but the atmosphere is great, and I like the folky feel.

Track 22: Hozier – Someone New

Interesting instrumentals at the start, but on the whole it’s a little too slow for me.

Track 23: Lost Frequencies – Are You With Me

Bland, forgettable tune – not keen on this one.

Track 24: Kygo and Conrad Sewell – Firestone

The tune irritates me, and the verses are too slow.

Track 25: David Zowie – House Every Weekend

Very repetitive, and there’s not enough melody for me.

Track 26: David Guetta, Nicki Minaj, Bebe Rexha and Afrojack – Hey Mama

Love the atmosphere on this one – great track.

Track 27: Flo Rida, Robin Thicke and Verdine White – I Don’t Like It, I Love It

Boring tune, uninspired theme.

Track 28: Galantis – Runaway (U And I)

The vocal style irritates me, and it’s another dull tune.

Track 29: Skrillex, Diplo and Justin Bieber – Where Are Ü Now

The lines are too jarring for me, and the tune’s really bland.

Track 30: Krept & Konan and Jeremih – Freak Of The Week

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Jeremih on track 12.

Good rhythm, good atmosphere – again I could do with a bit more melody though.

Track 31: Fifth Harmony and Kid Ink – Worth It

I really like that trumpet at the start, and it’s got a great beat – very danceable track.

Track 32: Deorro and Chris Brown – Five More Hours

Bland tune – nothing special going on with this one.

Track 33: LunchMoney Lewis – Bills

I love this upbeat novelty track!  Happily chair-dancing here.

Track 34: Avicii – Waiting For Love

Love the tune on this, and that piano is gorgeous.

Track 35: Clean Bandit – Stronger

I find some of the lines a bit jarring, and the tune’s fairly bland.  Good rhythm, though.

Track 36: Sam Feldt and Kimberly Anne – Show Me Love

Slow chillout cover of the Robin S classic, which has itself featured on a fair few Now! compilations over the years.  It’s not my kind of thing, but at least they did something different with the song.

Track 37: Blonde and Alex Newell – All Cried Out

Highly irritating tune, uninspired beat.

Track 38: Kygo and Parson James – Stole The Show

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Kygo on track 24.

Another boring song.

Track 39: Rudimental and Foy Vance – Never Let You Go

Repeated artist alert!  We’ve already had Rudimental on track 15.

Again, I find this tune very bland and forgettable.

Track 40: Pep & Rash – Rumours

The vocals are quite interesting, and there’s some intriguing beepy stuff going on, but on the whole it’s too messy for me.

Track 41: Dr Kucho, Gregor Salto, Ane Brun and Oliver Heldens – Can’t Stop Playing (Makes Me High)

I am literally yawning right now.  One too many boring dance tracks.

Track 42: Lethal Bizzle and Diztortion – Fester Skank

This one’s brilliantly daft (sample lyric: ‘you might see me in a Lambo/camo snapback, Rambo/five hundred horses, Django/two-two chicken, Nando‘) and very danceable.  Great stuff.

Track 43: Martin Garrix and Usher – Don’t Look Down

The tune annoys me – not keen on this.

Track 44: Tove Lo – Talking Body

Awkward theme, generic tune.  Dull end to a generally poor disc two.