2013 Soundtrack Review- My Top 10

2013 was a very strong year for soundtracks. Across films, television and video games there has been incredible output from a wide variety of composers; both veteran and brand new on the scoring scene. Sci-fi and adventure films in particular gave us plenty of very strong efforts, from John Ottman’s “Jack the Giant Slayer” to Michael Giacchino’s return to the Stark Trek universe with “Star Trek into Darkness”. Brian Tyler joined the superhero world with two very strong entries for both Marvel releases and Ramin Djawadi cemented his status in both film and television music with his scores to “Game of Thrones” and Del Toro’s testosterone filled “Pacific Rim”. Of course a year wouldn’t be complete without several entries from Hans Zimmer, this time contributing to several different genres of film as well as television series “The Bible”.

Here are my top 10 film scores for 2013:

10. 47 Ronin – Ilan Eshkeri

Ilan Eshkeri delivers one of the finest fantasy scores of the last few years with this rousing effort. Huge themes, massive action cues and the combination of ethnic instrumentation and full orchestra with a percussion section to rival Lord of the Rings (almost) make for a spectacular listen. But where obvious highlights lie in the scores epic moments (such as “Palace Battle”) some of its strengths come from more subtle areas. There is some beautiful writing here and when this is combined with action music as good as what is on offer here, the result is a truly remarkable score. Fantastic stuff!

9. The Wind Rises – Joe Hisaishi

Apparently Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature length film, long time collaborator Joe Hisaishi gives us a truly beautiful score. Hisaishi combines ethnic instrumentation with traditional orchestra like no other and here he implements guitars, accordions and mandolins into the fold. There are several themes presented here; the main theme the focus of the entire score being presented in numerous ways throughout it’s runtime. The strongest theme on offer in my opinion however is the theme for “Naoko”, a very subtle theme usually played on piano. It is hauntingly beautiful and offers a nice contrast to the films main theme. An aspect that makes Hisaishi scores always so strong is that the other cues stand by themselves so well, even without the use of themes. This score is no different, with highlights coming from cues such as “Falcon” and “Evacuation”. If this is truly Miyazaki’s final film then Hisaishi offers a beautiful send off with one of the years best scores.

8. Standing Up – Brian Tyler

Who knew that Brian Tyler had this side to him? While he delivered magnificent scores for the Marvel films this year, his crowning achievement was for the small family film “Standing Up”. This score is truly beautiful, bringing back memories of 90’s era Horner and Newman. But Tyler has his own voice, and this voice I hope we shall see more of. The main theme of this film is stunning; usually played with warm strings and brass, but it is developed throughout the film being utilised in other forms. Elsewhere in the score there is plenty of interesting stuff going on. There is a wide variety of instrumentation on show here; Marimba’s, guitars, piano and all kinds of percussion combine with traditional orchestra to give some truly exiting results, particularly in the action material. This is certainly one of the years most unexpected surprises and if it wasn’t for the sheer quality of this year then it would have placed much higher on this list. More like this please Mr Tyler!

7. The Book Thief – John Williams

Like Joe Hisaishi and Hayao Miyazaki, John Williams has a frequent collaborator- a little known director called Steven Spielberg. And while Hisaishi was scoring Miyazaki’s final film this year, Williams was for the first time since 2004’s “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” working on a film that did not involve Spielberg. Apparently being a fan of the novel, he purposely set out to score the film when he heard it was being made. And let us be thankful he did, because what we have here is a truly stunning work. John Williams is no stranger to the subject matter (The Holocaust) with his body of work containing films such as Schindler’s List. This film however centres around a child and therefore Williams takes this into account in his score. The main theme and much of the score’s body is of course harrowing, but there is an innocence in the score that reflects this character. It is beautifully crafted, with passages on solo instruments such as the piano and oboe and the thematic material is as emotionally powerful as you’d expect to come from this man; and this man is 81 years old. Blessed we be that at that remarkable age he is still putting out music of this incredible quality.

6. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones – Atli Övarsson 

There is something about critically panned fantasy films and incredible film scores. The Last Airbender brought James Newton Howard’s crowning achievement and here we have Atli Övarsson and a similarly towering feat. Övarsson has been on the film scoring scene for a few years now with a résumé including films such as 2011’s Season of the Witch. This however is a huge step up for him as this score is simply phenomenal. From the opening cue “Clary’s Theme” we have fantasy writing at its finest. Opening with a tinkling cimbalom, a grandiose  orchestra soon joins with full choir to provide what is the beginning of a truly epic score. The thematic writing is of highest quality and the action music provides several highlights throughout. Like 47 Ronin however, there are moments of subtlety that really do shine. “Midnight in the Garden” features strings and piano and this soft side not only offers a welcome reprieve from the action and tension but also provides a truly beautiful piece of music. This calmness is short lived however with “Vampires and Werewolves” combining electronics, orchestra and choir in brutal fashion to provide one of the most interesting highlights of the score. The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones leaves you breathless but is one hell of a ride. Awesome!

5. Remember Me (VG) – Olivier Deriviere

Without a doubt one of the most original and interesting scores to come out in quite some time. Olivier Deriviere has been working on video game scores for the last few years and 2013 was the year he really showed his talents to the world. His music for the Assassin’s Creed expansion was fantastic, but Remember Me is where he really showed off. Combining orchestra with electronics, he mirrored the games narrative (about loosing your memory and gaining fragments back) by the use of glitches and various production techniques to make a truly original and interesting sound that can only be best described as a cross between “The Matrix” and “Tron: Legacy”. The action material is mind blowing with tracks such as “The Fight” and “Chase Through Monmartre”. There are other highlights as well, such as “Neo Paris” which showcase other interesting ideas and styles. In Remember Me do we not only have this years best video game score, but also one of the years best soundtracks. Period.

4. Saving Mr Banks – Thomas Newman

Thomas Newman and Disney are always a fantastic combination. Newman’s previous work with them has resulted in some of the finest music of his career such as “Finding Nemo” and “Wall.E”, and Saving Mr Banks is another success to add to this collaboration with another career highlight; it is simply glorious. Really harking back to the sound of his 90’s era scores, Saving Mr Banks features lush strings, and beautiful melodies as well as the Finding Nemo-esque sound to make for a stunning score. The thematic material here is some of the best that Newman has done in a long time and his usual combination of traditional orchestra and other elements is of a highest standard. Newman had to write for two time periods whilst keeping the musical identity of the film constant and he achieved this magnificently. This is truly a real career highlight for Newman, and in my opinion his best score since his last collaboration with Disney (Wall. E). One can’t help but notice that these collaborations always bring out the best in Newman, and with him returning to Pixar to score 2015’s The Good Dinosaur that is sure to be a score to be excited about.

3. Romeo and Juliet – Abel Korzeniowski

At the beginning of the year I was preparing to name this as one of my favourite scores, however by a different composer: James Horner. After his replacement, anyone who knows me can say I was preparing to automatically hate this score out of principle! But within a minute of the opening cue “Juliet’s Dream” I knew this was something special. Abel Korzeniowski of W.E. fame was brought on at the last minute after tumultuous post production meant that Horner’s score needed to either be rerecorded or canned. Horner apparently refused and Korzenioski was brought on with just weeks to score the picture. After hearing this it is hard to imagine Horner’s (or anyones) effort being so effective; this is truly one of the most tragically romantic scores I have ever heard. Lush sweeping strings, exquisite piano writing and absolutely stunning romantic thematic material combine with one of the best orchestral performances of the year. The thematic development throughout is a masterclass in evoking emotion from the listener with several cues pouring out love and tragedy. “A Thousand Times Goodnight” is without a doubt one of the greatest romance cues ever, however pinpointing one cue would be unfair to the overall effort of this romantic masterpiece. If it wasn’t for the sheer quality of the following two scores, or if this was released in most other years; this would be the score of the year.

2. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – Howard Shore

Howard Shore returns to Middle Earth to score his next instalment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. Shore’s LOTR music is in my opinion the greatest film music ever written and his returning to this musical world is nothing short of a blessing. Whilst not of the overwhelming quality of LOTR it is not that far off, and with less of a scope to work with it would have been unfair to expect that of him. What we received in last years An Unexpected Journey was the best fantasy score of the year  and one that nearly held up to LOTR. What we received again this year is the best fantasy score of the year, and one that is arguably better than AUJ. The film itself is a lot darker and we are treated to some wondrous new places and characters which when we are talking about the music can only mean one thing: new themes. Shore’s thematic material for middle earth is second to none, and this time is no exception. Three notable themes are Lake Town, Tauriel and the dragon Smaug.  All three see significant use and development, with the heroic Tauriel theme being used to full effect in action centrepiece “The Forrest River”. The Smaug material is haunting, unnerving and downright sinister. It is some of the best material Shore has composed for Middle Earth. With only one more instalment of this incredible franchise left, one can’t help but feel both excited and sad to hear what Shore composes to end this epic saga.

1. Gravity: Steven Price

In 2010 a film came out with a score that blew my mind; it showed me a whole new way of scoring films and the possibilities of writing music so original when a new approach is taken. That film was Tron: Legacy, composed by french duo Daft Punk who (with the exception of Thomas Bangalter on french film Irreversible) were a brand new face on the film scoring scene. This year we have a similar situation. Steven Price’s only prior credit to Gravity was 2011’s Attack The Block; he was first assigned to Gravity to work on Sound Editing and eventually ending up scoring the film. And my god, what we have here is one of the most beautiful, brutal, original and downright interesting scores ever written for film. The use of electronics and production techniques combined with orchestra is just stunning. Space is always something that has fascinated me and to hear this music combined with the imagery just left me speechless. Price had a huge task on his hands in that there is almost no sound in the film because space is a vacuum. Therefore he had to create music that acted as the sound of the drama unfolding on screen as well. The result is extremely interesting. His use of manipulation of various sounds combined with synths and orchestra results in some of the most original sounding action music ever conceived. It’s brutal, but it’s also exhilarating. A lot of attention has been given to the scores closing cues (which I will come to) but the whole duration of the soundtrack contains absolutely breathtaking moments. Some of the true highlights come from some of the most subtle parts; the opening of “Don’t Let Go” is nothing short of beautiful, with the cue taking a turn to harrowing danger with one of the most emotionally powerful moments of the score following. There is also thematic material at work throughout the scores duration; all of which are treated to significant development and are portrayed in various forms, whether being played by solo instrument of full orchestra. The score is a journey which climaxes at the final three cues: “Tiangong”, “Shenzou” and “Gravity” and this is where the score comes to it’s full dramatic catharsis. “Tiangong” is full of drama and tension, pumping you for the ride ahead. “Shenzou” is epic, beautiful and utterly uplifting; this is what the entire score- the whole story has been heading towards. “Gravity” is where the story ends in colossal fashion. Some listeners may not find the experience easy; it is a very challenging score. But it is an experience; a journey with one hell of a pay off at the end. It is safe to say there are no other scores quite like this, and certainly none as original. Originality doesn’t automatically give a score the title “score of the year” but when the score is this beautiful, this well crafted and this stunningly effective it is impossible to ignore. And to think this is almost a debut score from a brand new composer just adds to how impressive this is. Gravity is staggeringly good. Bravo Steven Price. Bravo sir!

Cues of the year.

There have been several outstanding cues and tracks presented this year across a variety of different formats and genres. Here are 10 outstanding cues from the year.

The Wind Rises – Evacuation – Joe Hisaishi

Iron Man 3 – Can You Dig It – Brian Tyler

Oblivion – Fearful Odds – M83 and Joseph Trapanse

The Book Thief – The Book Thief – John Williams

The Lone Ranger – Finale – Geoff Zanelli

Remember Me – The Fight – Olivier Deriviere

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – The Forrest River – Howard Shore

Romeo and Juliet – A Thousand Times Goodnight – Abel Korzeniowski

Game of Thrones – Mhysa – Ramin Djawadi

Gravity – Shenzou – Steven Price

Composer of the year – Brian Tyler

2013 was a standout year for several composers. Abel Korzeniowski released two incredible efforts with Romeo and Juliet and Escape From Tomorrow. Joe Hisaishi composed a plethora of scores and Ramin Djawadi released fantastic scores for both TV and Film. But after much deliberation the clear winner for me has to be Brian Tyler. Both of his efforts for the Marvel films Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World were fantastic. On top of that he composed the brilliant Now You See Me, the video game scores Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag and Army of Two: The Devils Cartel and finally the truly beautiful Standing Up. Every single score from him this year has been fantastic and the majority of them can be seen as career highlights. With him practically becoming Marvel’s in house composer for the franchise it won’t be surprising to see him score the upcoming Avengers: Age of Ultron and after his output this year one can’t help but be excited about that. Here’s to more fantastic work from this increasingly talented composer!

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Richards Top 10 Film Scores Of 2012

My Top 10 Film Scores of 2012

Hey everyone, so as 2012 ends I’m looking back over my top 10 favourite scores of the year, and here they are! 🙂

10. Wreck It Ralph. Henry Jackman

I still have to wait another month to see this film but have listened to the score beforehand and can’t wait even more now. A delightful mix of 8 bit chip tune melody arrangements and orchestral numbers. You’re My Hero among the pick of the orchestral moments. Just a month left until I can see this!.

9. Frankenweenie. Danny Elfman

Danny Elfman and Tim Burton working together always gets my interest and Elfman consistently delivers as ever, not really much else to say!.

8. Skyfall. Thomas Newman.

Gets a spot above Frankenweenie for bravery alone. Taking everything you’ve come to expect from a Bond score and coming from a guy who you’d least expect to score one. I really want Thomas Newman to work further out of his comfort zone, the music to the opening train sequence and as he arrives to the casino are two of his best cues to date in my opinion.

7. John Carter. Michael Giacchino

Giacchino has fast become one of my favourite composers, his score to Super 8 was one of my favourite scores of last year and he gets a mention in my top 10 of this year too.

6. Life Of Pi. Mychael Danna

As a movie it really divided my friends who I went to see it with. Sometimes, a movie is all about connection, If you connect with Life Of Pi, you’ll love it, if not, you probably won’t. What really pulls the film along though is the minimalistic score, I’m not familiar with Danna’s previous work so can’t wait to hear more.

5. Rise Of The Guardians. Alexandre Desplat.

Delivered last year with the score to Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2, and delivers with an animated score this year. Was a bit puzzled how this film didn’t perform quite so well at the box office, its like the avengers but with mythological characters from fairy tales. Check this out!.

4. Amazing Spiderman. James Horner.

There are many cases where the score is the best part of a movie and heres a prime example. The film whilst being good was a bit all over the place and the rumours of re-writes and rows definitely show. But the score is everything you’ve come to expect from James Horner and reminds you why he’s one of the best. The cue to the rooftop kiss between Peter and Gwen is quite simply perfection.

3. Avengers. Alan Silvestri.

Alan Silvestri has always been an under-rated composer and that probably won’t change, the main avengers theme and its variations are my favourite ‘main’ theme of the year and the cues to the final action scene are some of his very best. Whedon’s been signed up for the sequel (Finally getting the respect and credit he deserves) and I hope the same happens with Silvestri, in both aspects.

2. Brave. Patrick Doyle

A score to a Pixar movie usually makes my top 10 every year and this years no exception, heavily influenced by the highlands of Scotland (well he is Scottish) this is just a treat from start to finish and whoever got Julie Fowlis in to do a few numbers deserves a gold star too. Beautiful stuff.

1. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Howard Shore.

Ok, a lot of it is very similar to Lord Of The Rings, but the Lord Of The Rings scores are some the best scores ever to be made and when the cue Old Friends hits you, it feels like home, a beautiful wave of nostalgia and I’m back in the shire again. Shore still nails the expansive landscape shots and one of my favourite songwriters Neil Finn sings the ending song! and as a result we all fall in love with middle earth all over again. Stunning, simply stunning.

So that was 2012, a wonderful year for film music all around and I’m looking forward to 2013, where I imagine James Newton Howard will make another fantastic score to a terrible movie in the shape After Earth. Prove me wrong Mr Shyamalan!.

I’m Richard, and you’re awesome for reading this.

Marv’s Top Film Scores of 2012

Marv’s Top Scores of the year.

It was supposed to be a top 10, but in my opinion there are only 5 that make it into the top scores of the year, a lot of overrated ones have been mentioned, i will give a dishonourable mention to the dark knight rises, which whilst the film was very good the music was run of the mill and average, sadly the same is to be said for MIB 3, whilst the film again was actually probably the best MIB of the series, the music was only alright, some parts were interesting but not enough to make it on. The expendibles whilst being its usual, brash and funny self provided a soundtrack worthy of a temp track system more than an interesting score, Now that the negatives are out the way, i will show you my top scores of 2012, Goodnight.

1. John Carter- Michael Giacchino

Much like its Film, extremely underrated, strokes of pure beauty that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, pure emotive genius that is not spoken highly enough even by myself, this film took me by surprise as such did the music, there is nothing but envy and beauty that i share with this, and for this very reason it is my number 1 choice, Disney’s slogan of this was, its own answer to star wars, the budget was big and the film did not do as well as it would have hoped.. however it made one person very happy, proud to own the film and its soundtrack, one i will not forget for my time as a film music fan.

2. Life of pi- michael Danna

Music of pure originality, and ethnic genius, a perfect example of music bringing up the standard of a massively pretentious and overly poor film, absolutely moments of stunning beauty has this score as my number 2, a film i really looked forward too, disappointed in every box besides the music, which exceeded my high expectations of a film score, I can only say i hope that one day i can put my mark on something as wonderful as this, Inspiring, beautiful, incredible.

3.The amazing Spider-man- James Horner

Whilst in my humble opinion the film was a very much watered down and less soulful effort than the original film, the films main redeemable quality was that of James Horner’s score for The amazing spider-man, from a man responsible for so many memorable themes in his time as a composer this score certainly lived up and delivered my expectations, well deserving of a place here.

4. The Avengers- Alan Silvestri

Long time i have admired the work of Silvestri yet never really gave him as much time as deserved, this film was a guaranteed blockbuster and the music certainly provided top quality, a theme that sticks in your head setting the scene for an incredible superhero film, something of which is a massive rarity in hollywood. Not enough to merit a top 1 or top 2 like it has been suggested but definitely a score i consider to be great.

5. The hobbit- Howard shore.

Some of this i will admit is down to bias choosing due to its predecessor, it is impossible to do a better job on the Hobbit than he did on LOTR, but alas some of the themes were enough to merit a top 10 place, Some cues were not up to scratch as the LOTR series but then a lot were very similar, and although not original it certainly kept the soul of LOTR in the films, much more enjoyable the second time around.

6. Journey 2- Andrew lockington

Finally my surprise package, This film was surprisingly good for its billing and the music well, astonishing in places, not consistent enough to be number 1 but definitely shown a very keen ear a good time at the cinema, the film was thoroughly enjoyable throughout and the music must take a lot of the credit for this, Wonderful.

Top 10 scores of 2012

This year has been an incredible year for film scores, with music of a huge variety of genres and scopes accompanying great films. There have been great scores that we have been anticipating since the start of the year, and several surprises  from relatively unknown composers that have wowed us. This is my personal top 10 of 2012.

10. The Dark Knight Rises – Hans Zimmer

09. Cloud Atlas – Tom Tykwer, Reinhold Heil, Johnny Klimek

08. Rise of the Guardians – Alexandre Desplat

07. John Carter – Michael Giacchino

06. Anna Karenina – Dario Marianelli

05. The Amazing Spiderman – James Horner

04.  Lo Imposible- Fernando Velázquez

03. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – Andrew Lockington

02. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Howard Shore

01 Life of Pi -Mychael Danna

30 day song challenge part three

30 day song challenge part three

Ok, heres a blog we can all get involved with, contribute to, and most importantly help each other find awesome new music. Here are the days 9 through to 16:

Day 17 – A Song That You Hear Often On The Radio

Day 18 – A Song That You Wish You Heard On The Radio

Day 19 – A Song From Your Favourite Album

Day 20 – A Song That You Listen To When You’re Angry

Day 21 – A Song That You Listen To When You’re Happy

Day 22 – A Song That You Listen To When You’re Sad

Day 23 – A Song That You Want To Play At Your Wedding

Day 17. Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know

I find 9/10 radio stations unlistenable, the inane babble, the endless commercials, promising variety but delivering essentially the same list of songs every day depending on radio genre. I really liked this song when it came out but then every radio station began playing it on the hour, every hour, and that for me took away something from it. Still a great song, but spoilt a bit.

Day 18. Animals As Leaders – Soraya

Wouldn’t this be wonderful? a song breaking the mould of the 3 and half minute standard song structure, 4/4 time signature, 120 bpm, squeaky clean formula. 20 minutes before writing this I heard Sex On Fire By The Kings Of Leon, with the word Sex edited out, WTF! are radio stations really this clean now? Come on, we all know what the word is. Would be wonderful to take the radio rules and break them all. It’ll never happen on a big time radio station though, love this band, and have a particular love for instrumental music as you may have guessed.

Day 19. The Beach Boys – I Know Theres An Answer

Breaking the rules a bit here with two entries by the Beach Boys, but Pet Sounds is simply my favourite album and won’t ever be beaten. Theres not really much else I can say, A masterpiece throughout, this is what perfection sounds like.

Day 20. The Black Mages – Those Who Fight Further

Another Instrumental entry, this is pretty much a music dream for me. Final Fantasy music, done in metal. This has quite a few listens on my itunes, maybe a few more than it should do lol.

Day 21. The Shins – No Way Down

From their new album, one of my favourite bands, I love James Mercers ambiguity filled lyrics and had a big smile on my face when I heard this in the latest Spiderman, hopefully they’ll start getting the recognition all great bands deserve.

Day 22. John Mayer – Heart Of Life

Despite acting like a bit of a plank sometimes, theres no denying John Mayer’s talent as a musician and a songwriter, the way of weaving a clever lyric without being too sentimental and the tone of guitar in the outro of this is just sublime. Definitely back to his best with his last album.

Day 23. Randy Newman – Feels Like Home

Getting a bit ahead of myself here I think the bride might be the one deciding the song, but as far as love songs go this is a very special one. He’s like marmite, people love him others hate him, many have done parodies of him. The guy will always be a genius to me. Incomparable.

Stay tuned for the fourth and final part, and comment below with your selection and lets get this shared around.

I’m Richard and you’re awesome for reading this.

30 day song challenge part two

Ok, heres a blog we can all get involved with, contribute to, and most importantly help each other find awesome new music. Here are the days 9 through to 16:

Day   9 – A song that (you think) you can dance to

Day 10 – A song that makes you fall asleep

Day 11 – A song from your favourite band

Day 12 – A song from a band you hate

Day 13 – A song that is a guilty pleasure

Day 14 – A song that no one would expect you to love

Day 15 – A song that describes you

Day 16 – A song that you used to love but now hate

And here are my entries:

Day 9. PSY, Gangnam Style

A song you can dance too? Well, you can dance to pretty much anything I guess, but I can’t remember the lost time one song made over 800 million viewers on youtube look and say, “Dance like you’re riding an invisible horse!”. The whole worlds been doing it and its wonderful to see. Take it away Sir Psy………

Day 10. Nobuo Uematsu, Tifa’s Theme.

Fell asleep to this just last week. This man is my idol, I started writing music of my own after hearing the soundtrack to Final Fantasy 7, video games just wouldn’t be the same without him, one day I hope to write something as beautiful as this.

Day 11. Blink 182, Ghost On The Dancefloor

Again like picking a favourite song this is difficult, Elbow and Hit The Lights are two of my favourite bands but I’ve already picked them for previous days. I’m picking Blink because I listened to them constantly in High School and I’m delighted they are making music again. Neighbourhoods was an absolute triumph for me, particularly after a gap of eights years to the last album, it perfectly recaptured the old style of Blink while pushing forward too.

Day 12. Black Eyed Peas, The Time

This could have been pretty much any song by The Black Eyed Peas, but this one stands out above the rest. So incomprehensibly bad, its not even bland like the plodding chord stabs of ‘I Gotta Feeling’, I’ve never heard a song with such little flow, everything about it either feels forced, completely un-natural or the sound of four of five songs mashed together put in a blender and seasoned with a sizeable sprinkling of auto-tune. Awful, just awful.

Day 13. Owl City, On A Wing.

The Fireflies guy, showing he’s more than the fireflies guy. I should hate this, the whole washed in auto-tune thing, but I don’t, quite the opposite. I’ve got a lot of time for Adam Young, a hard working bedroom musician who’s made the big time and rather than let it change him, he just makes the music he wants to, and this is rather lovely.

Day 14. Neyo, Miss Independent

I’ll probably never own a record by Ne-yo, but that doesn’t mean I don’t recognise a great songwriter when I see one. Never heard a modern R n B song like this, with the lyrics speaking of the great respect Neyo has for a woman, its very refreshing to hear. Great Production too, very Michael Jackson style middle eight is very nice.

Day 15. Julia Nunes, Look Out For Yourself

Don’t you just love a song you swear was just written for you?. Like they had you in mind? Only a two minute song, but a great message, put yourself first once in a while. Amen Julia! 🙂

Day 16. Steely Dan, Aja

I love Steely Dan, the complex patterns, the solos, the ambiguity of the lyrics, everything that makes interesting music, the best kind of music!. I decided to do a dissertation on the song Aja, so for 7 months I heard this song over and over and over again until it drove me mad. That was 3 years ago and I still skip it when I listen to Steely Dan now, I’ll listen to it again one day.

Stay tuned for part three, and comment below with your selection and lets get this shared around

I’m Richard and you’re awesome for reading this.

30 Day Song Challenge Part One

Ok, heres a blog we can all get involved with, contribute to, and most importantly help each other find awesome new music. Here are the first eight days:

Day 1 – Your favourite song

Day 2 – Your least favourite song

Day 3 – A song that makes you happy

Day 4 – A song that makes you sad

Day 5 – A song that reminds you of someone

Day 6 – A song that reminds you of somewhere

Day 7 – A song that reminds you of a certain event

Day 8 – A song that you know all the words too.

And here are my entries:

Day 1. The Beach Boys, God Only Knows

Its difficult out of the millions upon millions of songs out there to pick just one, one song to call your favourite, favourite songs are based upon moods more than anything I feel. But if you’re gonna push me for one, its gotta be this, simply the perfect pop song and from my favourite album.

Day 2. Ke$ha, Bla Bla Bla

Beiber and Black would be easy and predictable targets for this, they just make bland, inoffensive, uninteresting, lyrically awkward, 120bpm, 4 chord mush. Albeit this is worst kind of pop you can hear on your local radio station as they play the same 8 songs all day long, but there is worse out there. This for example. A song that shows just how low we have sunk, awful behind comprehension obnoxious arrogant garbage from a talentless thing who sounds like she’s reading the script from a terrible teen movie through an auto-tuner. I feel dirty typing the song into youtube to find the link, I’m off for a shower.

Day 3. Sigur Ros, Hoppipolla

Ahhhh, thats better. Onwards and upwards and to happy songs. Lots of songs make me smile and make me happy, but it takes a special song to make you smile, happy AND give you goosebumps, but this song does it all. The song from a thousand montages and heres a special live performance on later with Jools Holland (Best thing on the BBC)

Day 4. Tunde Baiyewu – Anaesthetic

From one half of the Lighthouse Family came a solo album, an album both brilliant and criminally under-rated (you’re really gonna get fed of me using that word over these four parts) A song about his mother slowly passing away and his helplessness. I’ve never been so moved by a song before, the lyrics ‘Oluwa shanu mi’ at the end of the chorus in Nigerian read ‘Lord have mercy on me’, Haunting, Bold, Brave and completely brilliant.

Day 5. Hit The Lights. Stay Out.

Ok lets bring the tone back up again, this song doesn’t remind me of one person but lots of people and lots of awesome nights out. Pop punk forever.

Day 6. Train. Hey, Soul Sister

Spent 3 weeks in Florida last year and listened to this song pretty much every day. Holiday of lifetime, can’t wait to do it again.

Day 7. Crowded House. Fall At Your Feet.

The first gig I ever went to, made me want to start playing the guitar, the harmonies the Finn Brothers create are just out of this world.

Day 8. Elbow – Open Arms

“We’ve got open arms for broken hearts like yours my boy, come home again”

One of the finest British bands to come out of the last 30 years, finally getting the recognition and credit they deserve for creating consistently incredible records, long may it continue and may other great bands find the same.

Stay tuned for part two, and comment below with your selection and lets get this shared around.

I’m Richard and you’re awesome for reading this.

Anti-Social Networking (Do Not Feed The Trolls)

For me its hard to remember when Facebook was new, can anyone remember? It was genuinely a very exciting time, ok there were other social networking sites like Bebo, Myspace, etc, but Facebook was a massive step up, communicating with other people became a lot easier compared with other networking sites whose layouts were clunky and messy compared to Facebook. For better or worse It has changed the way we communicate forever and I was on the better side of that 5 years ago, kinda don’t feel the same way anymore.

This started September 11th, people wrote standard messages regarding the tragic events 11 years ago but like the past few years, people saw fit to use this day to discuss whether it was a conspiracy or not (like every year) violently arguing over an issue that for most of the people had not affected what-so-ever (FYI this isn’t an invitation for you to present your opinion for or against, you couldn’t pay me to care what your opinion is). The past few years I’ve been pissed off by this, but now I’m just tired of it.

The unfortunate thing with the internet is that almost anyone can become an invisible html and hurl random abuse at a celebrity or non-celebrity via twitter or youtube or start an argument or an offensive group on Facebook. There seems to be a celebrity caught up in a row via twitter every day or people being arrested for harassment by using social networking, this really, really depresses me. While we are on the subject of celebrities, the tip of the iceberg is the fake death stories of celebrities that crop up every once in a while, Jackie Chan, Jim Carrey and more recently Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman and Alfonso Ribeiro, have all been targeted by false reports of their deaths. Seriously!?! what messed up mind tries to fake up the death of a beloved actor like that.

I’ve been writing music for over 15 years now and being a musician on the internet sometimes feels like screaming in space, theres millions others in the same boat all wanting to be heard and wanting the recognition, and the fact that someone can gain instant notoriety for being a jerk just makes me want to stop trying. Speaking of which check out a guy called Eric Bibb, one of my idols, amazing guitarist, songwriter and a wonderful man who in his career has released over 30 albums, the world deserves to know his name, so give him a listen and thank me later 🙂

Back to the point, this is why the internet is all backwards, we give such Facebook groups like ‘Cancer is funny because people die’ attention (Fortunately that has been deleted now). Give this attention to a person who deserves it instead, DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS! (if you ignore someone long enough they will go away). Unfortunately I’m left to accept that ‘trolling’ will never be gone as they will claim freedom of speech or some other bullshit. Newsflash here and listen carefully, yes freedom of speech does give right to say what you like, BUT it doesn’t give you the right to BE listened to! OR challenged should anyone affected by your words come to harm. We as people are better than this and therefore should act better, this is social networking, SOCIAL networking.

Also this is why I ask, do you remember when Facebook was new and people just, you know, talked and got along?

I’m Richard, and you’re awesome for reading this.

The Return of the Music of Middle Earth.

As if the world of film and film music wasn’t exciting enough at the moment, as we approach the end of 2012 the score (and movie) everyone has been anticipating is almost upon us. Howard Shores Lord of the Rings saga is arguably the greatest achievement in film music history with only Star Wars rivalling it in terms of scope, ambition, complexity and out-right amazing music. Its huge array of themes were meticulously crafted and were interwoven to create a world of music that told a story by itself. So when The Hobbit was announced, along with Shores name again attached the reaction from fans was undoubtedly feverous. Can he match the levels of his LOTR scores?

While the film and score releases are still yet to come, samples and a couple of cues have recently been released. Of course a score of such scope is almost impossible to judge based on 59 second samples and a couple of tracks, so I cannot say whether or not I believe the score is of the same standard as LOTR. What I can say is that it is sounding absolutely fantastic. Several themes from the LOTR trilogy can already be heard, such as The Shire theme, Rivendell theme, Lothlorien and many more. There are also several new themes on display, including the Misty Mountains theme heard in the original trailer. Of course there are some really epic moments that can already be heard, but there is also some beautiful ethereal stuff as well as a much more lighthearted edge, particularly at the beginning. This isn’t simply an extension of The Lord of the Rings; while this is clearly the music of middle earth The Hobbit already clearly has its own identity. With just a few weeks to go before release date, anticipation really is rising for what should be the score of the year. As usual, here’s the clips that have been released.

Star Wars: LET IT GO ALREADY!

Star Wars: LET IT GO ALREADY!!!!!!!!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away……………

etc, etc, etc, you know the rest…………..

So last week it was announced Disney had bought Lucasfilm and will release a 7th Star Wars film in 2015, the reaction to this was as you’d expect, angry self entitled fan boys across the land whined for the world to hear. Cries of ‘you’ve raped my childhood’ rung out, idiots claiming this is the start of the apocalypse and I’ve even read people claiming Star Wars had sold out. So as a huge Star Wars nerd myself do I feel like this? do I agree with any of this? absolutely not.

I’m not even going to go into the original series, it was timeless, classic, untouchable. Nothing, I repeat, nothing, is ever going to take that away from it. So heres the cold hard truth, like it or not its George Lucas’ franchise, or was as now is the case. The decisions made about it are down to him and his company. You don’t like it? Tough shit.

There are thousands upon thousands of franchises out there for you to choose from  and you know what? the same damn thing applies to them too!. Men In Black 3 was awful, but like Star Wars (and all types of media for that matter come to think about it) it doesn’t take away the fact that the 1st Men In Black is brilliant, one of my favourite sci-fi movies for sure. The Green Lantern was awful but that doesn’t take away the fact that the comic books are great. Linkin Park will never make an album on the same level as Hybrid Theory, BUT THEY STILL MADE HYBRID THEORY!!! (I could be here all day, seriously, but your versions of this below).

Ok so lets talk Phantom Menace, This is what annoys me most about Star Wars fans, the fact that they think they own the franchise and constantly rate Phantom Menace as one of the worst films of all time. Not even close, ok I agree Its not a great movie, its average, 2.5 out of 5, a film that looks great, amazing score (Seriously, some of John Williams best work, and thats saying something) gets the action right but messes up in the story and character development and kinda drags in places (Sound familiar to about a hundred or so other movies churned out by Hollywood every year).

Its not even the worse Star Wars movie, Attack Of The Clones is much worse, they actually listened to the cries of these fanboys and tried to please every single one of them to the point where it was just creepy. Like look! that dude looks just like fan favourite Boba Fett, look! Yoda is in a lightsabre fight, look! Jar Jar Binks suddenly has less of a role all of sudden, look! Natalie Portman is dressed in a provocative way just like Princess Leia was, see? we’re still Star Wars, oh god, please love us again? Please? LOVE US!!.

So hence the title, let it go already, the Phantom Menace was never meant for the older generation it was meant for the new fans like films 2 and 3 were, like the new Clone Wars TV series, like Star Wars lego, like the new Disney meets Star Wars merchandise, etc, etc. So to address the outcries, no, your childhood has not been ‘raped’ that expression is beyond stupid, Star Wars sold out a looooooooooong time ago, but hey, heres a golden nugget of knowledge that often gets forgotten, HOW DO YOU THINK THEY KEEP FRANCHISES FUNDED, GOING AND DOING SO WELL?!

Also lets not forget that since Disney took over Marvel, Avengers Assemble has been released, one of the greatest superhero movies of all time. So lets give them a chance as I feel Star Wars is in very good hands, I’ve no idea what they’ll do with a 7th movie, but looking forward to seeing so all the same. In conclusion, and if this hasn’t changed your mind, then take Yoda’s advice ‘Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate’ and that right there is the path to the dark side folks.……..

I’m Richard, you’re awesome for reading this and may the force be with all of you…………..

P.s. If you believe Mickey Mouse will star as a Jedi in the movie then you are whats wrong with the world.