Gig Review: A Great Big World

It could be argued that my music tastes are not exactly…sophisticated. In the past year I’ve seen 5 Seconds of Summer play four times, and One Direction twice. I spent a lot of money to see Miley Cyrus a few years ago, and cried when she played 7 Things. I also cried when I saw Big Time Rush at SlimeFest. Chances are, if it’s aimed at twelve to fifteen year olds, I will be there in a heartbeat. Target audiences? Who needs them!

Last night I went to my first concert that was not aimed at tweens, and I was a little apprehensive. I mean, what do you listen to when you take the hysterical twelve year olds out of the equation?!

The band in question was A Great Big World, of Say Something fame. I had come across one of their songs on tumblr accidentally, and instantly bought their debut album because it was so perfect. Aside from Say Something, their style is probably best described as super enthusiastic pop. The kind of music you just have to smile while listening to.

Despite having their album on repeat for months, I knew little of the actual band. Until I asked my friend Michelle at the concert, I wasn’t even sure which country they were from (which is a big deal for me, the girl who spent the entirety of year nine looking at The Jonas Brothers’ house on google earth). It turns out they’re two twenty-something guys from New York City, Chad Vaccarino and Ian Axel, but they also brought along a pretty kick-ass backing band.

From the moment they started playing The Circle of Life to introduce themselves onto stage, the only word I could think of to describe both the band and their performance was fun. They were bouncing around and genuinely so excited to be there. Chad, especially, has the best smile I have ever seen. He smiles with his entire face, and it was near impossible to not feel immensely happy while looking at him.

A lot of concerts these days are so utterly commercialised, and it’s like the artists are merely reading a script (“Hey *insert city*! You guys are the best crowd we’ve ever had, we’re so excited to be here!), but last night Chad and Ian were positively radiating enthusiasm. Even when playing their two sadder songs, Say Something and I Don’t Want To Love Somebody Else, the absolute joy of their performance was evident.

I’ve been trying to find a youtube video to capture the perfection of seeing them live, but everything I’m finding is coming up short. They were just so happy to be playing for us, and we were so happy to have them there. When you add Chad’s pink trumpet and enthusiastic triangle playing and Ian’s bouncing keyboard skills to the equation, you’re left with something that can’t quite be replicated unless you were actually there, in that moment.

Living in the moment was actually one of the big themes of the concert, with their songs This Is The New Year and Cheer Up! being all about finding happiness and fresh starts in every situation. This Is The New Year is definitely one of my favourite songs by them, and you may know it from Glee (although, you also may not, as everyone with any sense stopped watching that show many years ago). It’s a reminder that new years are not limited to January 1st, and that you can take any moment to make a change. 

My absolute favourite song by them, however, is Rockstar. I was so excited when they opened the show with it, and a teensy bit disappointed that the nature of concerts is that you can’t play the same song twice.

 It’s a big deal for me to say this, because I have seen almost all of my favourite bands in concert, but I think A Great Big World last night was the best live show I’ve ever seen. It was so down to earth, so positive, so catchy, so fun. I started the show with a smile on my face, and it didn’t leave until I went to sleep last night. If all you know of A Great Big World is Say Something, do yourself a favour and look up the rest of their music. They’re playing Brisbane tonight, Melbourne tomorrow, and Auckland on Tuesday, so it’s not too late to catch them on this tour. Otherwise, you can cross your fingers with me hoping it won’t be too long until they’re back in Australia again. 

frangipani princess xoxo

 

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Watch: One Direction, Midnight Memories

A day with a new One Direction music video is a very happy day indeed. It’s even better when the video is perhaps my favourite yet (although Best Song Ever is a hard one to beat).

Have a watch, and let the envy of the fact you’ll never get to run around London at midnight with One Direction sink in (or even the fact you’ll never be at a totally lame shitty party with them. I know, I feel it too.).

frangipani princess xoxo

Frangi Chats To…Jai Waetford

Jai Waetford was the youngest contestant on this year’s X-Factor. At just fourteen, he drew immediate comparisons to a young Justin Bieber. It wasn’t long before Mr. Bieber himself heard about Jai, and during his Australian tour he organised a backstage meet and greet.

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Screen Shot 2013-12-22 at 11.24.43 AM

After coming third in the competition, Jai’s first single, “Your Eyes”, was released at the beginning of the month, as was his debut self-titled EP.

I spoke to Jai earlier this month about meeting Justin, the X-Factor experience, and what’s coming next.

Frangipani Princess: What have you been up to today? 

Jai: We got to spend the night at home last night for the first time in a few weeks, a few months, so it’ s good to be able to just come home and relax

What was it like meeting Justin Bieber? 

It was really good, it was awesome. We were just at his concert and Scooter Braun came out and found me and mum, and took us backstage. I had no idea who he was, and he said “hey, I’m Scooter” and me and mum just tripped out. And then he introduced us to Justin, and then we chilled backstage. He showed me some new music, we met his dancers, his producers and stuff, which was really cool. It was good fun. 

Did he have any advice to give you? 

He said stay humble, which is cool. He is the most humblest guy, and I have never, ever met anyone as passionate about music as him. 

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Frangi Chats To…Third D3gree

Third D3gree auditioned for the X-Factor Australia as three individual artists: Jordan Rodrigues, Vanessa ‘Kelebek’ Skrypczak, and Jacinta Gulisano. They were placed together as a group during Boot Camp, and since then have performed as a totally awesome RnB/Pop style band.

I spoke to Third D3gree last week about what life was like during the X-Factor, what’s it like now the competition is over, and what’s happening next for the group.

Third D3gree: L-R - Jacinta, Jordan, Kelebek

Third D3gree: L-R – Jacinta, Jordan, Kelebek

Frangipani Princess: You all auditioned for the X-Factor separately, so how did you feel about being put in a band? Is it something you’d ever thought about? 

Third D3gree: 

Jacinta – We never thought we’d be in a group. Obviously if we wanted to be a part of a group, we would have entered the show in a group at first. So you know, all we were thinking about was being solo. But once we got put together, our initial thoughts were we didn’t think it was going to work, two girls and a guy, we’d never really seen that before so we thought it was a little bit weird, and we were all complete strangers to each other, so we were like “how are we going to bond with these two people that we don’t know?” But then we kind of saw that we all had the same interests and likes, and we liked the same genre in music, and it was a great choice by the judges.

What did you guys do to bond?  How did you guys get to know each other before you had to perform as a group? 

Jordan – I think we really started bonding at home visits where we went to Noosa, or Queensland, and we spent that full week together and I think spending pretty much every minute of the day with each other we just kind of learnt about each other, we learnt what our pet hates are, what we like, what we don’t like, and we kind of just had to get closer and closer through that experience, just being around each other all of the time. We did go out for a few dinners, we chilled a lot, things like that.

What made you all audition for the X-Factor? 

Jacinta – I think it was mainly just our families. They told us to give it a go, and it was also that X-Factor is one of the best talent shows out there, so why not? Why not give it a go? It’s launched so many great careers for people, everyone you hear on the radio has pretty much been on the X-Factor, or been on a show like that, so that’s why we thought we’d all give it a go.

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Listen: United State Of Pop 2013 (Living The Fantasy)

One of my favourite parts of the year, DJ Earworm’s United State Of Pop Mashup was released this week. Highlighting the hottest hits of the year in a mashup so perfect you’d be forgiven for thinking it was one song, the United State Of Pop never fails to impress.

Give it a listen, and relive the year that was in musicland (and then, if you’re so inclined, check out their channel and relive years gone by, surprising yourself with the fact you still know every word and yet can’t manage to recall any facts for school/uni).

frangipani princess xoxo

Watch: Wild Heart, The Vamps

My favourite up and coming boyband, The Vamps, have just released the video for their new single “Wild Heart”. Filmed while the boys were in LA, the video is set on a party bus and really makes you wish you were rocking out on there with them.

The song is as perfect and catchy as you’d expect from the cute British teens, and will have you singing about their wild hearts at the top of your lungs (much to the relief of those around you who are just happy for something other than One Direction).

frangipani princess xoxo

Joe Jonas Opens Up

Joe Jonas has broken his silence and opened up to New York Magazine on his life as a Jonas Brother. And wow, revealing would be an understatement.

It’s weird, The Jonas Brothers have been my favourite band for almost seven years, and this one article has shown me that I really don’t know much about them at all.

This article, more than anything, shows the control that publicists and managers have over artists. I’m studying media, so I suppose I understand more than most people what goes on behind the scenes, but even for me it’s shocking to hear it in the artists’ own words. It’s a two way problem, really: the media needs to learn to respect the privacy of artists, and management and publicity teams need to let the artists live. It’s something we really need to seriously work on fixing.

Here’s some of my favourite excerpts from the article, but you should really read the whole thing.

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Music Review: Midnight Memories, One Direction

It’s pretty clear that One Direction don’t really need to worry about their album sales.

Their new album Midnight Memories, officially released on the 25th of November, was another in a long line of One Direction material to be leaked, this time making its way online an entire week before it was due to be released. One has to question if this was in fact a clever marketing strategy, as it has become the fastest-selling album in Amazon UK’s history, and is currently number 1 on iTunes in several countries. Maybe 1D have simply beaten the internet.

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The album’s first single, Best Song Ever, from its Baba O’Reilly rip-off opening signalled an album built on fun, huge stadium songs. (Possibly the best thing about the song, however, remains Zayn Malik’s brief yet alluring brush with drag, as secretary Veronica in the song’s video.) By contrast, the second single, Story of My Life, is more of a Mumford and Sons affair, presenting quiet, pensive lyrics and frantic strumming guitars.

The album, however, manages to consistently draw on both these styles, and is not the confusing and dissident mess initially suggested by its singles. Classic homage is strewn throughout the album, with songs reminiscent of The Police (Diana), Joan Jett (Midnight Memories), KISS and Van Halen (Little Black Dress), and Rick Springfield (Does He Know?). Equally, barnyard romps Happily and Through the Dark are the main representations of the band’s newfound flirtation with British folk rock. What results is a weirdly coherent smorgasbord of sounds.

There are some clear standout songs on the album. You and I, the album’s clearest ballad number, is a simple and beautiful number about the power of love to overcome external forces—an overwrought premise on its surface, but made new by nuanced and metaphorical lyrics. I can almost see the blinding light of 50 000 tween iPhones waving back and forth now. Don’t Forget Where You Belong, penned by Niall Horan and boyband of days past McFly, is another standout track, channelling the ambient pop rock sounds of bands such as OneRepublic. The song, an adorable ode about finding a home in your friends while on the road, marks another refreshing change for the band, in that not every song on this album is about wooing/being heartbroken by a girl. In a similar vein, this album features a never-before-heard amount of gender non-specific songs—to the point where there are more instances of vocal acrobatics from Zayn Malik, the band’s own Mercedes Jones, than there specific references to a girl.

Better Than Words, a song composed primarily of the titles of other songs, which according to co-writer Julian Bunetta, was conceived of in the bathroom by band member Liam Payne, has also become a fan favourite. The song is lighthearted, lazily sexy, and a little bit silly, and gives the band another opportunity to exhibit their impressive and vastly matured vocal chops. Other highlights on the album include Something Great (penned by Harry “I’m Finally In A Hipster Band” Styles and Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody), Louis Tomlinson’s main offering in Strong, and the powerful Right Now.

Of course, the album is still full of the same laughable and occasionally offensive pop waffle as the previous two, even if the music itself is of a far higher quality. Songs such as deluxe edition track Why Don’t We Go There? feature some Unfortunate Implications—in the song, 1D attempt to coax someone who has voiced a desire “take it slow”, to “give in tonight, and let me set you free”. It’s definitely no Kiss You.

Another candidate for Dumbest Lyrics Ever is the 80s hair band-esque jam Little Black Dress.  Ignoring the blatant objectification entirely, in this song, a black dress floats independently around the room at a party, somewhat ghostlike, and starts turning heads (presumably in terror) with its presence. The boys of One Direction are intrigued by this dress, and naturally wish to know more about it. “Little black dress, did you come here alone?” they ask, obviously confused about how it could have, given it’s a dress without a wearer. “Little black dress, what’s your favourite song?” I’ll bet Lana Del Rey’s Blue Jeans gets it going. It’s entirely possible that One Direction are simply overcome with desire for the dress itself. Maybe Zayn’s drag stint went over better than we know. Let’s just hope this doesn’t result in a One Direction Brand formalwear line.

That all said, this album’s lyrics are a lot less creepy and coercive on the whole. Most importantly, the music comes across as far more real—for the primary reason that, for the most part, these are their own songs, stories, and emotions on display. They resonate, in particular for long time fans of the band, because they resonate with their singers.

It’s second nature to want to split up an album of this kind, and indeed a band of this kind, into fractions and catgeories—25% classic rock, 25% Appalachian folk, 25% intense homoerotic tension and 25% accidental misogyny. However, what makes this offering from the world’s favourite boy band so different is that it is the first One Direction album which has felt like, well, an album. Certainly there are (very, very heavy handed and obvious) influences there, but ultimately the sound we’re hearing is the band themselves.

Whether you’ve already downloaded it or not, I recommend you procure this album legally.

Midnight Memories is out now via Sony Records. 

Rating: 5/5

Charlie @ frangipani princess

1D Day

Sunday (Australian time) is an exciting day for Whovians, but it’s also an exciting day for Directioners. Despite the fact that the 23rd of November has been the Doctor Who Anniversary for, well, fifty years, One Direction went ahead and chose that day for their international seven hour day of celebration. Much controversy and fandom fighting ensured, but at the end of the day, both are going ahead and have millions of fans eagerly anticipating the events.

Interestingly, it was announced today that 1D Day will be broadcast live into the “Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty on BBC3” which will feature a number of past Doctors and Companions. That’s the kind of decision that has the potential to make a lot of people very annoyed, but it’s also clever marketing. Although, it would be more effective if even one of the boys had ever even vaguely mentioned anything to do with Doctor Who.

1D Day, which will begin at 6am AEDT Sunday, will be broadcast on Youtube and Google+ and will feature numerous guest stars including Simon Cowell, Celine Dion, Robbie Williams, Piers Morgan, and The Muppets. It will also include behind the scenes footage, special plays of songs from Midnight Memories (which would have been more effective if the entire album hadn’t leaked), and Guinness World Record Attempts.

Fans have also had the opportunity to participate in 1D Day Challenges over the past few weeks, and will now be able to see some of their work showed live in the broadcast. Fans can also participate by using the hashtag  #1DDayLive, using the official Zappar App, and by playing along with the official 1D Day Quiz.

The boys will be also dropping into celebratory fan hangouts on Google+, as well as having a chat called One Big Drop In. You can find out more information about the hangouts here.

I’m a Directioner and a Whovian, but I’ll have to say I’m a lot more excited for the 50th Anniversary than I am for what is basically a giant live chat that, knowing the power of the Directioners, will probably just crash.

For the less cynical Directioners out there, it’s sure to be a fun day, and if I can stop crying over the fact that David Tennant will be back on my screen, I may tune in for a little while.

frangipani princess xoxo