A HAPPY PANCAKE DAY INDEED!
This week’s TimeOut Magazine advertised free pancakes at John Lewis in Oxford Street. As students, who always love free food, we headed over to Oxford Street this lunchtime and it turned out that we were in for a very good surprise!
We were expecting a pop-up window handing out free pancakes but instead we were greeted by a mini-restaurant in the window of the John Lewis store. The restaurant only had two tables and therefore only eight people were allowed in at a time. This expected free pancake stall turned into a session with cook Sophie Grey where she taught us how to cook the perfect savory pancakes, with caramelised onions, thyme and goats cheese. It became quickly apparent that this free session was to promote Tefal’s new range of frying pans. At first, I was a tad cautious that it was going to become a sales pitch but instead we were informed that goody bags were waiting outside for us with pans worth £60! That’s right, professionally made pancakes, a cooking session and £60 worth of produce for FREE!
I was expecting a catch at some point, but there wasn’t one! The whole event was just for marketing purposes as we were eating our pancakes in a restaurant as part of a window display so there was a slight feeling of being a goldfish as people walked past the shop on Oxford Street, so if you don’t like being watched whilst eating then this may not be for you. However great free food is worth it, trust me!
Sadly, the pancake pop-up shop was only open on the 3rd & 4th March but there is one great moral to this story: If TimeOut tells you to go to a free pancake event, GO! You may even get an extra goody bag too!
I think that we would all be in agreement that when watching The Great Gatsby movie last year we were all left thinking, ‘well Leonardo DiCaprio plays the role of a rich man with fast cars and lots of parties well, but I wonder what would happen if he played a similar role but this time set in the 1990’s?’ Okay, so maybe not, but it is hard to not draw comparisons between Gatsby and Leo’s new film The Wolf of Wall Street. However, this film is a much raunchier, raw and 18-rated tale of the wealthy.
The film is based on the real life story of former stockbroker turned motivational speaker Jordan Belfort. The story depicts his journey from starting out on Wall Street, losing his job, founding his own business ‘Stratton Oakmont’, which led to him becoming one of the wealthiest and well-known men on Wall Street. Belfort soon became blinded by greed and in the late 1990’s spent two years in prison for manipulating the stock market for his own gain.
The film may be three hours long but I was captivated throughout. I put this down to how enthralling the series of events are. Some of the happenings of the film are nearly unbelievable and you are constantly astonished by the knowledge that this film is based on a person’s real-life. Furthermore the cast are perfect, DiCaprio plays the lead (as well as producing the film) who has characteristics that you want to despise him for but you almost cannot resist his bold arrogance and charm too. Jonah Hill (Superbad) plays Belfort’s hilarious employee, Donnie, who has been with him from the start. Also keep an eye out for Joanna Lumley playing Belfort’s auntie-in-law (the scenes were shot in Kensington Gardens!)
The film is a perfect display of the broad range of acting ability that DiCaprio has to offer. Belfort has a fast-changing personality throughout the film and Leonardo takes you on this rollercoaster of emotions with him. He is sometimes a man who you like the idea of working for; who doesn’t want a boss that throws an office party every Friday afternoon? He is the joker of the group when trying to justify how he managed to spend $26,000 on a dinner, with Donnie suggesting that it was his fault for buying lots of sides. However, he also has a darker side to his personality; angered by police investigations, the loss of money and he is consumed by his drug addiction.
However, whilst his drug addiction had devastating affects on his life, it also provided one of the more humorous scenes of the film. Martin Scorsese dedicated a week of filming to a sequence that involved Belfort desperately trying to make his way back to his house whilst under the influence. DiCaprio’s acting became almost hard to watch as his character’s entire body became consumed by the substances. Minutes of the film were spent on Belfort laying on a top step, trying to negotiate his way down. He crawled along the floor to his car and fought vigorously to get his sports car’s door (which opened upwards) open, only to get his leg stuck on the door. Words cannot do the scene justice and it has to be seen to be appreciated, but the entire audience were in stitches.
DiCaprio has earned himself a reputation for being one of the actors who has received many nominations but has never managed to bag himself an academy award (he even failed to win one for drowning in Titanic!) I think that The Wolf of Wall Street is a definite must see with brilliant directing and acting alike. Sadly, this film still did not manage to earn Leo an Oscar. One day Leo. One day.
Last week Coldplay, with very little warning, released a brand new track complete with a music video onto the Youtube-sphere. If you know me, then you will know be very unsurprised that ‘Midnight’ has made it as my Track Of The Week this week.
Not heard the track yet? Have a listen!
Whether you’re a Coldplay fan or not, you may well be sat there thinking ‘well this sounds nothing like ‘Paradise’ or ‘Fix You’!’ You’re right, it certainly does not. Coldplay are to release a new album later this year and ‘Midnight’ appears to be a preview of a brand new sound for the band. The band have been quoted in the Metro as contemplating the idea of a more stripped-back and acoustic album with drummer Will Champion telling Jo Whiley ‘that might be nice, actually. There’s only so far you can go without becoming pompous and a bit overblown.’ Thus, I was expecting a sound akin to ‘Us Against The World’ or ‘Yellow’. ‘Midnight’, on the other hand, is certainly not that.
The song has already been heavily crticised by reviewers for being too over-produced, having unmemorable lyrics and the track has a very heavy use of synths too. Some of these comments are rather fair on Coldplay’s latest outing. As a Coldplay fan, I love their ability to create lyrics that instantly strike a cord with the listener and their songs will remain stuck in my head for the rest of the day. However I have listened to ‘Midnight’ several times now and even after last listening to it an hour ago, I still cannot recall a line of the lyrics from the song or the tune either. The Metro continues to quote the band discussing their new experimental work in the studio and they reportedly told the BBC that the material was ‘absolutely dreadful’ and that it is ‘garbage, abstract, avant-garde nonsense. So you shall never hear of it, even if we released it you’d never hear it.’ If I was to be particularly harsh, which I do not want to be to Coldplay, a critic could make a strong case to suggest that ‘Midnight’ falls into this category.
However…. I do believe that the video, directed by Mary Wigmore, is a very good one. In fact, I would argue that the video is one of the most memorable things about the song’s release. I honestly loved the negative-like effect throughout the video that reminded me of the cutting-edge special effect that I used to use on my Nokia 5300 XpressMusic back in the good old days. The video is a very eye-catching piece of work that differs highly from any of the band’s previous videos.
I was incredibly excited when ‘Midnight’ arrived on the internet but once the initial surprise factor had passed, the realisation dawned that perhaps this was not going to become a fan-favourite track. I am assuming that this will proceed to be an official single from the band which is a tad disappointing. The lack of memorability of the track will not make it fair well in the charts however I do think that this experiemental sound would be great to include further down the track list of their upcoming album. I praise Coldplay for trying something new with their sound but I just hope that the entire album does not take on this new approach.
My Rating: 2/5
NEWS JUST IN… So, I just clicked publish on this week’s Track of the Week, when I headed onto my Facebook to find Coldplay revealing some BIG news. Their new album is officially called Ghost Stories and will be released on 19th May 2014. They have also released their new single ‘Magic’ which means that ‘Midnight’ will not be a single and after my comments above I think that they have made a very wise decision. ‘Magic’ is a really nice track which fits in well with the current Coldplay catalogue. Perhaps I will review that track nearer its release date. If any Coldplay fans haven’t heard it yet, here it is below for you.
5 more tracks I’ve been listening to this week!
This year’s Fairtrade Fortnight is dedicated to making the sale of Bananas fair. Fairtrade is calling for the end of supermarket wars and action by the government to evaluate retailer’s pricing tactics.
Today I attended a special Fairtrade celebration at the Holy Apostles Church in Pimlico. The day consisted of stalls selling Fairtrade produce and a series of talks from the Bishop of Westminster, the Chief Executive of The Fairtrade Foundation, the managing director of Divine Chocolate and a Fairtrade banana producer. We attended the afternoon to help celebrate Fairtrade fortnight and also because we are interested in gaining Fairtrade status for our university. The talks were very informative and therefore I thought that I would write-up some of the key points of today for those who did not attend but have a passion for Fairtrade.
One of the aims of the afternoon was to demonstrate the increased quality of Fairtrade products, as well as the large amount of good that the products provide for producers, whilst showing that Fairtrade products are not always too much more expensive than other brands. This was demonstrated immediately as we arrived. We were asked to participate in a ‘blind-tasting’ test of either Fairtrade tea, coffee or hot chocolate. A fellow student and I opted for the coffee and we had to to try two cups of coffee; one was Fairtrade and the other was an opposing brand but we were unaware of which was which. We then had to tick to say which we thought was Fairtrade and which was the other. I chose wrongly but my friend Will picked correctly. Later in the afternoon, the results of the vote were revealed and we were told of the price difference between the two; Fairtrade products often work out better value and, in my opinion, often taste better too. Have a look at the price differences next time you do your weekly shop!
Talk by Fairtrade Banana Producer- Alexis Martinez
Alexis began the afternoon of talks with an account of how Fairtrade had changed his livelihood in Columbia. He began by discussing the great deal of violence that was present in his local community before Fairtrade arrived in the local Banana plantation. He gave a great deal of the credit to Fairtrade for the violence in his community coming to an end because he told us of how the arrival of Fairtrade changed the mentality of those within the community. A member of the audience questioned Alexis about how many people in the community worked on the plantation and he confirmed that it was one of the sole jobs within the local area. Thus, when Fairtrade arrived, members of the community had the guarantee that they were going to earn a fair price for their work with promise of potential premiums that Fairtrade also feeds back into the local community. Alexis’ community is proof that such premiums can have such a powerful effect as he told us of how some of the money went on building the neighborhood a school block; before the gain of Fairtrade premiums, students would have to learn in a pigsty whenever it rained. Alexis was extremely thankful to all those who purchase Fairtrade bananas in the supermarket and stated that when you do, ‘you create a real change across the ocean.’ You can read more about Alexis and his community by clicking here.
A talk by Bishop John Arnold
The Bishop of Westminster also made a speech about the impact of CAFOD and Fairtrade. The Fairtrade Foundation was founded in 1992 by CAFOD, Christian Aid, Oxfam, Traidcraft, the World Development Movement and the National Federation of Women’s Institutes. Bishop Arnold recounted the work that CAFOD had done since 1992 in the development of Fairtrade and discussed the work that the charity has done in partnership with Fairtrade with some of the world’s poorest countries. He discussed how the key to Fairtrade was the way that it worked in partnership with producers. It was emphasised that none of these producers wanted a ‘hand-out’ but instead wanted to create a sustainable living for themselves with the help of Fairtrade; they were wanting to take control of their own futures and were not simply looking for a one-off donation. 1.3 million farmers have now benefited from the work of Fairtrade in the past 22 years.
A talk by Chief Executive of The Fairtrade Foundation- Michael Gidney
Michael Gidney added to the point made by Bishop Arnold and emphasised that the work of Fairtrade is not charity work, but trade. Producers are not looking for help for nothing in return, but are looking to develop partnerships that will create a long-term future for them where they gain the money that they deserve for their hard work. Gidney noted that Fairtrade has helped farmers and workers in 70 countries and has had a massive impact on the lives of those involved. In 2012, an estimated €80 million was gained in Fairtrade premium and given back to local communities. Thus, Gidney referred to Alexis’ community where members have turned from violence and drug problems and have become more focused on the work of the banana plantation and the good that the premium can do to their neighborhood. One of the biggest messages from Gidney’s talk was that one of Fairtrade’s biggest markets is the UK and thus our choice to buy Fairtrade products over other brands is essential to providing a livelihood for those who produce the products that we eat everyday. He noted that 90% of our shopping baskets contain bananas however very few of us seem to consider them to be of particular significance. However, switching from other brands to Fairtrade would have a great significance on the lives of many producers.
A talk by Managing Director of Divine Chocolate- Sophi Tranchell
Tranchell has done a great deal of work with Fairtrade London and noted that the capital became a Fairtrade City in 2008. The diocese of London contains more than 230 Anglican churches and St Paul’s Church even uses Fairtrade wine at all of their Eucharistic services; something I think that all churches should be urged to do. Tranchell also discussed the amazing achievement of helping to make the London 2012 Olympic Games the most sustainable Olympics ever staged with 14 million Fairtrade cups of coffee, 7.5 million cups of tea and 10 million bananas being shifted throughout the games!
She also proceeded to discuss the massive worth of the UK Fairtrade market, with figures standing at 1.77 billion and growing. This growth is extremely important as she described how in Malawi, the world’s 7th poorest country, sugar farmers are unable to put enough food on the table for their families; buying Fairtrade can have a big impact on changing this. She also discussed the range of companies which stock Fairtrade produce in the UK, including Pants To Poverty and Tropical Wholefoods. More details of Fairtrade products can be found on their website here.
I hope that this post has encouraged you to look into Fairtrade more and why not begin by doing something during this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight (24th Feb- 9th March)? Find out more about this year’s campaign at: http://foncho.fairtrade.org.uk/
As today’s talk emphasised: “You’re as amazing as your choices make you.”
Also, special thanks to the Holy Apostles Church in Pimlico for a well-organised and informative afternoon.
LIAM vs JORDAN
This week fellow blogger Liam Kent (letmekentertainyou.wordpress.com) has asked to me make the new Kaiser Chiefs single ‘Coming Home’ the track of the week. I’m not an exactly an expert when it comes to the Kaiser Chiefs and I wasn’t really a big fan of the song. Thus, I thought it would be a good idea for us both to review the track- Liam judging it as a Kaiser Chiefs fan and me commenting upon it as a standalone track. Before reading the reviews, have a listen to the song and a look at the video.
‘Coming Home’ is the lead single off the Kaiser Chiefs’ new album ‘Education, Education, Education and War’ (EEE&W) and it’s a surprising decision. Not because it’s not a good song, but because it sounds a lot different to the usual Chiefs singles.
After the departure of drummer and chief song writer, Nick Hodgson, the band was written off by many. The band however, has publicly stated that they see EEE&W as a chance to prove those critics wrong and prove there is a future for the Kaiser Chiefs. You may have then expected the band to choose a song similar to the anthems of ‘I Predict A Riot’ or ‘Ruby’ as their opening statement of intent yet ‘Coming Home’ is not that.
I’ve seen quite a lot of people comment after listening to the song that it’s too “different” or “mainstream” yet the rest of the album isn’t like that. The recorded versions of ‘Bows And Arrows’ and ‘Misery Company’ can be found on Youtube or Soundcloud whilst a quick Youtube search of the recent Chiefs gig at the Gorilla in Manchester or Scala in London will bring up songs like ‘Cannons’, ‘Ruffians On Parade’ and ‘Factory Gates’. These songs show that the band hasn’t moved away from the sort of songs they usually make.
What ‘Coming Home’ provides the Kaiser’s with, is an opportunity to show a different side to their song writing ability. Dave Simpson from The Guardian, in his review of the band’s show at Leeds Arena in September 2013, described ‘Coming Home’ as “a U2/Kings of Leon-ish stadium-sized ballad” which it is. At recent gigs, Wilson has led the audience in united arm waving when the song is being sung and that sums up its purpose. Many Chiefs songs are meant for you to bounce up and down to, but not ‘Coming Home’.
In all honesty my knowledge of the Kaiser Chiefs stretches as far as ‘Ruby’, ‘I predict a riot’ and ‘Never miss a beat’ was fairly decent too. Of course I also now know lead singer Ricky Wilson as ‘that guy off of The Voice UK’. Thus, I’m not exactly their number one fan.
‘Coming Home’ is the sort of track that I would happily put on late at night to send me to sleep before bed but I doubt it would do as good a job at waking me up. I do not mean this in a negative way but I am merely commenting upon the slow and steady pace of the song. Would you put ‘I predict a riot’ on before bed? I wouldn’t. Yet, in the morning I certainly would! Okay, so maybe I haven’t given the song the best starting review. After all, when I first listened to the song I told Liam that ‘The second half is fairly decent, the first is a bit dull’. This was perhaps a tad harsh.
After a few listens, the song is notably catchy and you cannot help but find yourself nodding along and attempting to sing the song in your best Ricky Wilson style voice (well I did anyway). The song has a great similarity to ‘Run’ by Snow Patrol; slow, catchy, a rockier part later in the track and also atmospheric. This was the point that I was attempting to make earlier when calling it falling asleep music; so is much of Snow Patrol but I love them. ‘Run’ is a track that is similarly moody but catchy and it was a big hit. I imagine that ‘Coming Home’ may have the same effect among Kaiser Chief fans. As an outsider I think the track is perfectly okay. It may not be one of my favourite songs out right now but if I’m looking for something to stick in on whilst writing my next essay, it will probably make the list.
‘Coming Home’ and their new album ‘Education, Education, Education & War’ will both be released on 31st March.
Liam’s Rating: 4/5 Jordan’s Rating: 2/5
5 more tracks I’ve been listening to this week!
Tonight James Corden returns to his presenting duties of The Brit Awards 2014 at London’s O2 arena. The show will also feature guest performances to provide interludes between the presentation of awards, with confirmed performers including; Ellie Goulding, Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry and Artic Monkeys. However, when looking through the list of nominees, I felt that some acts had been unfairly missed off the list. Thus, I decided to write a list of nominees and winners of my own. Some of the acts are genuinely nominated and others are additions of my own, I’ve also added a new category too. Most of the nominations are serious but some may be slightly tongue-in-cheek suggestions. (You can decide which are serious and which are not for yourself!)
British Breakthrough Act
London Grammar Bastille Disclosure Clean Bandit
Winner- London Grammar
British Male Solo Artist
John Newman Passenger Olly Murs Tinie Tempah Robbie Williams
Winner- Olly Murs
British Female Solo Artist
Gabrielle Aplin Birdy Ellie Goulding Lily Allen Rebecca Ferguson
Winner- Gabrielle Aplin
International Male Solo Artist
Bruno Mars Justin Timberlake Pharrell Williams Michael Bublé Will.i.am
Winner- Pharrell Williams
International Female Solo Artist
Katy Perry Lorde Taylor Swift Lady Gaga Miley Cyrus
Winner- Taylor Swift
Lawson Rizzle Kicks Artic Monkeys Foals Bastille
Winner- Rizzle Kicks
Arcade Fire Haim One Republic Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Imagine Dragons
Winner- One Republic
British Album of the Year
Gabrielle Aplin-English Rain John Newman-Tribute Biffy Clyro-Opposites Rudimental-Home Ellie Goulding-Halcyon Days
Winner- Biffy Clyro- Opposites
John Newman-Love Me Again Rudimental feat. Ella Eyre-Waiting All Night Nina Nesbitt-Stay Out Eliza Doolittle-Big When I Was Little One Direction-Best Song Ever Passenger-Let Her Go
Winner- John Newman- Love Me Again
John Newman-Love Me Again Naughty Boy feat. Sam Smith- La La La Ellie Goulding-Burn Eliza Doolittle- Big When I Was Little One Direction- Best Song Ever
Winner- John Newman- Love Me Again (again)
As you may have noticed I have left out the ‘Best Producer’ award, mainly because I do not claim to know anything about producing. Furthermore I agree with the ‘Critics’ Choice Award’ being awarded to Sam Smith. (He’s already received it!) However this makes room for my two new awards, which I’m sure the Brits committee will incorporate into next year’s ceremony….
Best Comeback Artist
Ant & Dec (PJ & Duncan) McBusted (McFly and Busted super group)
Winner- Ant & Dec (PJ & Duncan)- Let’s Get Ready To Rhumble
The Forthcoming Album Award
Awarded to artists that are bringing out a new album in 2014 that are bound to make an impact on the charts
Lily Allen Adele Coldplay U2 Paloma Faith Kylie Minogue Lana Del Rey Take That Nina Nesbitt Paolo Nutini
So, what are your thoughts? Agree with my nominations? Outraged by the Best Comeback Artist Award (I know, it was a close call between PJ & Duncan and McBusted!) Let me know in the comments below.