You there! Are you a filmmaker?

I’m a big fan of music videos. I’ve never seen them as purely a promotional tool; I believe them to be an extension of music, like cover art. They provide that visual dimension that music alone (obviously) lacks. And when they’re done right… Continue reading

It all started the morning after a bout of insomnia, when I was trying to get stuff done but was too tired to reasonably function. I wanted something on in the background, but nothing that would confuse or irritate me. (I have reached that age where 70% of all media irritates me.)

And I found this on Netflix, and it was perfect.

Or, at least… it was when I watched it with the sound turned off. I’ve learnt my lesson with Luc Besson over the years. His sci-fi films look amazing, but they are very, very silly.  Continue reading

“In Screaming Color”

Taylor Swift was already a big star in 2014 when she released her fifth studio album: 1989. But this became one of those giant pop albums, like Adele’s 21 and Whitney Houston’s eponymous first album. Suddenly people who claim to not even like pop music know these singers’ names and, when drunk, reveal that they know a surprising amount of the lyrics. And the fans that love the album… really love the album. People get personal about it. People get defensive about it. It’s more than just the soundtrack to a certain part of their lives: it can become a part of their identity.

So it was with 1989. It was everywhere, but yet fans didn’t feel the need to apologise for liking it, even though it was everywhere. And its fanbase was surprisingly broad. The number of men my age (early 40s) who have professed to loving this album is… statistically significant, shall we say. Every other week it seems, someone new declares “Look, 1989 by Taylor Swift is a great album and I don’t care who knows it…” So popular has it proved amongst older men with indie leanings that the alt-country artist Ryan Adams actually released a cover version… not of one of the 1989 songs, but of the entire album. (Was that, and its critical response, Olympic-level mansplaining? I’m hardly the best person to judge that, to be fair.) Continue reading

I initially picked the 10 Years of Akala album. Because the man is, in my opinion, the most interesting thing happening in UK culture right now. (He’s been ‘happening’ for a while obviously, hence the album title, but as ever I’m late to the party.) But I started listening to his music at around the same time as I started reading his new book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire, which looks set to make him a mainstream intellectual nationally, and maybe internationally. And it’s the book rather than the album that’s really hooked me — I chewed through it in big gulps in no time at all.

The book is part life story, part political essay and part pan-African history, and for anyone interested in British, particularly English, culture… you really need to know this stuff. Continue reading