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Lorde’s New Single.

Glory and Goreshould be next single from Pure Heroine.  While “Team” is currently burning up radio here in the US, it is starting to fall on the iTunes top selling singles and the Billboard Hot 100, an indication that the single’s life is coming to an end.  While it is still in the bottom of the top ten in both iTunes and Billboard, it is time to think ahead.

“Glory and Gore,” while being a fan favorite, has started to gain traction with a wider audience.  I think perhaps it’s because it was used in a promotional campaign for the History Channel’s show Vikings:

I’m not entirely sure if that’s the only reason for it’s popularity (I don’t know if “Glory and Gore” was used in any other ads or promotions…I’m good, but not that good), but it has gone to number 40 on the iTunes Top 100:

"Glory and Gore" is currently #40 on iTunes, as of 2/25/14

“Glory and Gore” is currently #40 on iTunes, as of 2/25/14

The only other Lorde songs on the iTunes Top 100 are “Team” and “Royals,” her two hit singles.  Yesterday “Glory and Gore” was at number 41, so it’s position has been rising on it’s own accord (i.e. without any radio airplay or live performance promotion).  Given the fact that the History Channel, while a brilliant network, probably doesn’t serve a lot of viewers within Lorde’s target market (i.e. teens and college kids (although I know a lot of kids my age love the History Channel, so maybe it’s wrong to assume only older men watch the History Channel…)), if “Glory and Gore” is given the promotions within the given target then Lorde may have herself another Top 10 hit.

I also base this on the fact the song is one of the catchiest and more listened to songs on Pure Heroine.  With her usual dark and mystical vocals, “Glory and Gore” charms the listener within the first five seconds.  More specifically, during the chorus, Lorde and producer Joel Little added a background vocalized “oh, oh” which really draws the listener in.  Even her imagery within her lyrics of “gladiators,” “battles,” and “saviors” evokes this kind of brave fighter attitude that my generation espouses.  Don’t believe me this song is worth a listen?  Just listen to the clip in the Vikings commercial in the above YouTube clip and you’ll be listening to “Glory and Gore” on repeat!

***UPDATE***

“Glory and Gore” is now #28 on iTunes (cough, cough):

"Glory and Gore" is now #28 on iTunes Top 200, 2/26/14

“Glory and Gore” is now #28 on iTunes Top 200, 2/26/14

 

 

Quick poll for my fellow Lorde-ites:

 

Why is that Harry Potter Book There?

The other day, my friend and I had a discussion about why Harry Potter is considered a children’s book and not an adult book, given the rather lengthy nature of the prose, the darker themes (Rowling said once in an interview that her mother’s death was “splashed” across all the pages), and the violence (particularly in Deathly Hallows) in the books.  Ultimately we concluded that the magical environment of the Harry Potter books sort of align with fairy tales and could, rather lamely, be considered “childish.”  We did, however, argue with this conclusion given that other fantasy/science fiction books, like The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, were classified as either young adult or adult even though they held magical/fantasy elements.  So what kind of book are the Harry Potter books?

Today I walked into the children’s room at the library where I work and the children’s librarian, as usual, said “So, how are we tonight?”  The children’s librarian is fairly new to our library, but we both happen to work Monday nights (I shelve in children’s where she works) and we have started having rather deep, in-depth conversations.  It’s not uncommon for these conversations to be about Harry Potter, both of us being huge fans and both having been sorted in Hufflepuff in Pottermore, so I said to her “I have an argument I need you to settle.”

The librarian who was half way looking through an older book trying to decide if she should get rid of it looked up startled, “Oh?”

“My friend and I have been having a debate on whether Harry Potter is a children’s book, and, since you’re the children’s librarian, I want to know why,” I boldly stated.

She marked her place in the book, set it aside, and sighed, “Well, part of it comes down to the fact that she intended the books to be written for kids.  A lot of it comes down to the intent of the author and publisher, like Scholastic doesn’t publish adult books.”

“So, for example, The Hunger Games books are young adult books because Suzanne Collins wrote it for young adults, and even though the violence level should make it an adult book?” I asked.

“That would be part of it, but you have to remember that the characters in The Hunger Games are teens, and in Harry Potter they’re kids who face kid problems.  Like, the Harry Potter characters are still in school, they think like kids, and face similar emotions.  It’s not like it’s written as a flashback or told from an adult perspective, the stories are told from the kids’ perspective.” She paused for a moment, shuffled her books, then continued, “Also, adult books tend to have people versus people, young adult books tend to have teen versus society, and children’s books tend to have kids versus some cause.  So, The Hunger Games  have Katniss taking on the Capitol and the revolution, and Harry is facing the usual growing pains while taking on Voldemort.”

“Okay, ” I said, trying to catch her off guard, “but don’t forget the books are incredibly long, arguably longer than most adult books.  Even her writing style, word choice, and descriptions are more adult style.  A lot of people think the books progress to be very dark and violent.  Like, why is Game of Thrones considered adult when it takes place in a fantasy world and holds violence like Harry Potter” (if I had long hair, this is where I would flip my hair…also, I haven’t read/seen Game of Thrones, this is just what I heard about it).

“They don’t get long until Goblet of Fire, so the first few are manageable for a kid.  And the themes of Harry Potter are darker, but they’re not like Game of Thrones that holds more violence and, from what I hear, a lot sex.  And people often underestimate what kids can handle in terms of violence in books, I think it goes back to the idea of kids thinking themselves invincible.”

She then paused, reached back for her book, and said “Huh, that’s some good food for thought.”

 

The Juxtaposition of Lana Del Rey

This is how I work: when it’s sunny and warm outside, I’m happy.  When it’s cold and snowing, I’m sad.  Pretty basic.  I don’t care about the research I’ve read at school, the weather affects my mood, because I hate Massachusetts Weather.

It’s currently the most depressing time of the year for me here in arctic: winter.  The past two months literally have had below freezing temperatures.  It’s just been so dark and cold, and so much snow.  Sad face.

Given the fact that I listen to music mostly based on my mood, and that I’ve been so deflated because of this weather, you’d think I’d listen to music from the ever so effervescent Lana Del Rey (sarcasm), especially her album Born to Die.  But the thing is, that’s really a summertime album for me.

I’m not kidding.  Last summer, one of the albums I had on repeat was Born to Die, and had her songs “Born to Die,” “Video Games,” and “Summertime Sadness” (both the standard and Cedric Gervais Remix (which just won a Grammy)) on repeat on my iPod, especially when I was out biking in the beautiful sunshine.  Today, while at work shelving books, I realized I hadn’t listen to the stunning Lana Del Rey’s music in months, so I decided to dedicate an hour to Born to Die.  It didn’t last; the album kept reminding me of summer and I thought “huh, this is a summer album.”

If you’ve heard the album or any of those songs, they’re not upbeat songs; they’re not songs that would provide you much motivation while exercising or songs that would cheer you up.  So why are these slow, somewhat melodramatic, and rather ethereal songs more compatible for my summer?

The somewhat magical thing about Lana Del Rey’s music is that while it’s depressing-sounding, it does not make the listener depressed.  In a weird way, her musical content is rather bold in that she sticks to themes and strong opinions of heartbreak that others stray from; I doubt anyone would tell their boyfriend, even in song form, that they were “born to die,” or that, rather poignantly, “I think I’ll miss you forever/ Like the stars miss the sun in the morning sky.”  From her lyrics and her music, Lana Del Rey’s listeners pick up her darker emotions and either relate to them or simply understand them.  Take her summer hit, “Summertime Sadness,” the lyrics, on the surface, would appear rather optimistic for Del Rey.  With such lines like “I just wanted you to know/That, baby, you’re the best” and “Oh, my God, I feel it in the air/ Telephone wires above are sizzling like a snare/ Honey, I’m on fire, I feel it everywhere/Nothing scares me anymore,” one would expect this love song to be about the height of romance with no depressing undertones.  But when you add swirling strings and ambient tones to Del Rey’s crooning, you get a rather depressing song about heartbreak.  While the song truly is about a breakup in that Del Rey is listing out all the positive/wonderful things about her relationship that she’ll miss like we miss the summer during winter, the production of the song could have been manipulated to create a more positive experience for listeners.  Take Colbie Caillat’s song “Realize” for example.  The song, like all of Caillat’s signature songs, sounds positive and happy like the sun-kissed home she’s from (she’s from California/Malibu/Hawaii type place).  Her vocal performance and the acoustic nature of the song leaves you smiling, wanting to lay out in the sun with your significant other.  But, upon closer examination of the lyrics, it’s rather a heartbreaking story about unrequited love, especially emphasized with lyrics like “If you just realize what I just realized/ Then we’d be perfect for each other/ And we’ll never find another,” and “It’s not the same/ No, it’s never the same/ If you don’t feel it too.” This is a case where the production/performance of the song changes the scope of the song to be more positive for the audience.  Lana Del Rey, however, does the opposite in that she purposely keeps her music in Born to Die on the negative side to emphasize her misfortunes.

I honestly don’t know why I associate Lana Del Rey’s music with the summer.  I do feel like some music is seasonal, and logic and my past experience would sort Lana Del Rey as a winter’s artist, songs not to be listened to during the upbeat summer.  But that’s not the case.  Perhaps it’s just me; perhaps LDR should be listened year round.  Let me know with poll below!

 

 

Everybody Hustles to Survive: The Power Struggle of American Hustle

I probably enjoyed American Hustle more than I thought I would, and apparently I’ve been obsessed with it because I can’t stop talking about it.  The thing is, the story line is a bit confusing as it is told in flashbacks and in a non-sequential order.  There were periods when I was watching it and didn’t understand how something was legal or what was going on.  But at the end, it all makes sense and clicks, which perhaps is why I liked it.  Or perhaps it was because they filmed the movie in locations around where I live, so I got a kick seeing my home on the big screen.
The film tells the story of two con artists, played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams, who are forced by an FBI agent, played by Bradley Cooper, to basically con or set up to arrest corrupt politicians and mobsters, notably a mayor played by Jeremy Renner.  Bale, Adams, and Cooper’s characters create a rather elaborate and difficult-to-manage sting operation to catch Renner’s character, among other politicians, that almost comes to a crashing end when Bale’s character’s crazy wife, played by Jennifer Lawrence, unknowingly starts telling the mobsters and politicians about the sting operation.

The thing that really enthralls me about this movie is the fact that the tag line is “everybody hustles to survive,” and when you watch the movie, you realize everyone really is hustling each other; you really don’t know who is the one who has the power.  At some points you feel Bradley Cooper’s character is controlling everyone, then it seems Amy Adam’s character is in charge, other times you think it really is Christian Bale, or perhaps Jennifer Lawrence.  I’ve been dying to discuss this with people, but everyone I’ve talked to hasn’t seen the film!  So I made a poll  to see  who you think had the power in American Hustle.

Personally, I feel Amy Adams’ character is the one who holds all the cards.  She holds two identities, and flawlessly slides between her usual American accent to a perfect British accent (which is why I think she deserves the Academy Award, but she’ll probably lose to Cate Blanchett because Blanchett has been winning all the other major film awards).  Because she slides in between the two accents and identities, some confusion is caused because you’re not sure if she’s the British woman or the American.  This isn’t done to annoy the audience, it’s done to show how complex a person/con artist Adams’ character really is.  You find out at the end (SPOILER ALERT) that she’s really an American pretending to be British as part of her con with Bale.  However, she keeps up the British act to convince Cooper to like her/fall in love with her.  While Cooper was intending to put Bale and Adams away in jail after using them (I assume, he made it appear like he’d let them go free, but I got the feeling he wasn’t so altruistic), you could tell he was becoming hooked on Adams.  I don’t think the sting operation could’ve ended the way it did if Adams’ character wasn’t in the lead as I think she was; there was a scene towards the beginning where Adams wanted Bale to hustle Cooper and not trust him with the sting (which he didn’t seem too keen on), so Adams said she do it by herself.

If you haven’t seen American Hustle, you really should (it comes out on dvd March 18th!).  I had a friend who saw this movie in theaters before I did and she seemed not to like it as much.  As I was planning on seeing it, I asked her if I should’ve waited until the dvd release and not waste the extra money on the movie ticket.  Her response was simply and effective, “No, there’s a JLaw singalong/dance along number that’s worth the $10,” and she could not be more right.

But it’s not just the JLaw singalong/dance along number that makes the movie.  This is a movie that makes you think about the characters and their situations, and really forces you to make some of your own conclusions.  You have to get involved in the sting operation and hang in when things don’t make sense because they will at the end.  While this movie is categorized as a comedy, it’s kind of like David O. Russell’s last movie, Silver Linings Playbook: while it held some funny moments, it wasn’t roll around on the floor crying type of comedy (although, I felt American Hustle was funnier than Silver Linings Playbook).  All the main actors did incredible work, each deserving an Oscar (especially Adams and Lawrence).  Personally, I felt Jennifer Lawrence stole the show; I couldn’t wait for another one of her scenes because she just left me laughing (honestly, if she doesn’t get the Academy Award for this performance…I won’t be happy).  There was one scene in particular where Lawrence’s “boyfriend” attempts to kill Bale (her character’s husband) and after Bale confronts Lawrence, she ends the scene saying “honestly, why can’t you be happy for me?”

If none of this interests you, you should still see American Hustle just to experience the fact that in one movie all the characters are really and truly hustling each other (and half the time you don’t realize it).