My Top 18 Songs of 2018

takes deep breath

Here we go…

How many lists like this have I seen and argued with the writer over in the last couple of weeks?

Hint: A lot.

Well, now it’s time to make my own list as 2018 draws to a close of my top 18 songs for the year (there will definitely be honourable mentions because I’m too indecisive for my own good) 2018 has been an interesting year for music. It’s been a genre-bending blurry explosion of faces we haven’t seen for a while and new kids on the block. It’s been a year of experimentation for music and the world as we all try and navigate this increasingly complex global scene that is 2018. The world turned upside down a few times and voices have been raised, in anger, fear, excitement, and hope.

With whispers of a few big name-releases on the horizon for 2019, music’s renaissance and rebirth of technicoloured brilliance where we feast on tune after tune is only a hair’s breadth away from hitting full speed. Who knows what could be around the corner?

We can’t look too far forward yet without recapping the year that was, so here we go (and these aren’t in order of best to worst by the way because my heart couldn’t handle that!)

1) Rainbow –  Kacey Musgraves

Kacey Musgraves is one of those artists that as soon as I heard her music, I wondered how on earth I’d ever lived without it. I honestly could’ve put the whole of her gorgeous Golden Hour on this list. Many other year-end lists feature her disco pop yeehaw anthem High Horse as their pick or perhaps the dreamy album opener that is floaty Slow Burn but for me, it will always be this song that marks an album magic from start to finish. Maybe that’s because it’s the song my heart needed to hear the most.

2) Always Remember Us This Way – Lady Gaga

I know everyone is in love with Shallow and trust me, so am I. There was a real wrestle between the two songs as to which one would come out on top and be a part of this list. But the minute I heard the song in that darkened cinema, I felt a catch at the back of my throat. My eyes pricked with tears and I fell in love with the rawness of it, as well as its weighted meaning and message in what was a heartwrenchingly beautiful story. Plus I’m an absolute sucker for a piano ballad and there was just something gritty in Lady Gaga’s voice that had me leaning forward…

3) Getaway Car – Taylor Swift

To my mind, it is the greatest musical sin of 2018 that this song wasn’t released as a global single with the stunning visual masterpiece of a music video that I could imagine clearly from the very first time I listened to it.  This is songwriting brilliance from start to finish. We will never meet a master of narrative and storytelling like Taylor Swift again, Luckily, Taylor kind of made up for the overlooking of this song by the world by releasing this as a promotional single for the Aussie and Kiwi leg of her worldwide record-breaking Reputation Stadium Tour for which coincidentally a concert film drops on Netflix tonight. New Years Eve sorted. Any haters out there – thank u, next…

4) In My Blood – Shawn Mendes

It felt like Shawn was inside my head with this one. It’s desperate and aching, something we’ve all felt whether we admit it or not. But it also marked a bombastic sonic foray, a glimpse of what crowds might scream and feel in their veins when he gets to stadium heights. It’s honest and raw, I always got the feeling he couldn’t have run away from writing this even if he’d wanted to…

5) Before You Called Me Baby – Caitlin Smith

It’s thanks to Ed Sheeran that I know Caitlin Smith at all. When he posted a screenshot of her song This Town is Killing Me with the simple caption of “Wow”, my curiosity was piqued. But it was this, the opening track of her killer heartpunch debut Starfire that bowled me over. Her vocals are absolute fire here and she has this way of singing combined with the story that makes you feel like you’re wonderfully soaring and hopelessly falling at the same time.

6) Consequences – Camilla Cabello

The first time I heard this song, I held my breath until it was over. It felt almost too personal, as though Camilla had just ripped the details from hard days of her life, poured them into her diary and then just hit record.  I feel like it’s also relatable in many frames of heartbreak, not just romantically. The aesthetic of the music video where I feel Camilla channeled her inner Disney Princess and embraced orchestral magic just makes it all the better.

7) Speechless – Dan + Shay

Dan + Shay are one of my greatest musical discoveries of 2018. Their harmonies and blending of voices are absolutely heavenly. Once again, I could have picked any track from their self-titled album to put in this list. Speechless is a gorgeous ode for the hopeless romantic you take my breath away everyday kind of falling in love and the video is hella heart eyes as well.

8)  Youngblood – 5 Seconds of Summer

This is one of those songs I regretted playing on my uni commute almost instantly. With just a pair of headphones on a public train and the beat in my bloodstream, I could not jam out to this as hard as it deserved me to. The slick pop direction of 5SOS’s return knocked me for six, but with the shifts of subtle balance between pop and rock in this track  this is a full headbanging fist-banging head out the window of the car scream the lyrics anthem.

9) We’re Going Home – Vance Joy

Vance Joy’s music is honestly so soothing and always makes me feel like I’m frolicking by the seaside or sitting around a fire under the stars. We’re Going Home is no exception to this feeling, as a stellar  singalong roadtrip tune from his sophomore album Nation of Two. He is one of the many artists here in Australia I absolutely love and I cannot wait because of his soulfood acoustic offerings to see his career explode into the sun.

10) Miss Me More – Kelsea Ballerini

Kelsea Ballerini’s second album Unapologetically is packed full of wonderful tunes but this anthem of self-love after losing yourself is one of the best. No one should ever make you feel as though you have to cut away parts of yourself or change who you are to earn their love. Its message is made more fiercely sweet when you consider the truth of her fairytale romance and marriage to Aussie country rising star Morgan Evans

11) Shotgun – George Ezra

I still don’t know what it is but there’s a sound in this song, a particular zany twang that instantly hooks me in every time. Ezra has proven he’s a master of funky sound, offbeat lyrics and odd vocal parts that just seem to work. That one jump into a high note, the lick of falsetto as he tells us he could get used to this tells me Ezra’s mastery and rise to success is only just beginning. I could get used to it.

12) My, My, My – Troye Sivan

I’m not going to lie. It took a minute for this song to consciously grow on me. Subconsciously, it was stuck in my head the minute I heard it. The shift in perception for me came as this was the soundtrack to a particularly great scene from the 2nd season of Thirteen Reasons Why, an exploration of the love story between Tony and Ryan at the time. Seeing him strut down the catwalk to a stadium full of Taylor Swift fans just elevated this song and its experience to a whole other level. If you haven’t listened to Troye’s album Bloom, do yourself a favour and get on that.

13) The Middle – Zedd & Maren Morris

I know, I know. I think this song has been an earworm in my head since the ticking clock effect came over the radio for the first time and got into my skin. It’s a real banger that always leaves me chair-dancing and the cherry on top is the power of Maren Morris’s vocals. I absolutely love Maren. Her debut album Hero is full of singalong choices and I’m very excited because something tells me MM2 packed no doubt full of riffs, excellent songwriting  and more killer vocals is not far away….

14) Curious – Hayley Kiyoko

They call her “The Lesbian Jesus” and with good reason. Her groundbreaking portrayal of romantic love and sexuality between woman has opened a whole new world. She has brought millions of LGBTQIA+ youth around the world to the promised land, a safe space, one that has brimmed with so much possibility already this year it’s hard to keep track. The slick pop production of Curious and its teasing narative are a perfect introduction to the power Hayley Kiyoko is growing to yield over the music world. 20GayTeen you were good to us. Long may Hayley’s rise and reign continue.

15) 1950 – King Princess

You might remember way earlier in the year that this was one of my recommended tunes you just had to hear. Well, I’m proud to say it’s aged like fine wine because 3/4 of a year later, it is still an excellent pop song. King Princess is another one to keep your eye on, that girl be going places we haven’t been before so hold on tight! Once again, thanks Harry Styles for putting this gem on my radar with an infamously cryptic lyric tweet. Long many those continue if they’re going to bring me songs as good as this one.

16) Be Alright – Dean Lewis

Anyone that can use the word ‘mate’ in a song as serious and straightfaced as this one is worth a listen. In fact, that perfect ‘it shouldn’t work but it does’ twist of Australian vernacular is what drew me to this song. It’s what put the chorus in my head and has made it a staple singalong track of 2018. Dean Lewis, I hope it is alright now mate. You can do so much better than a girl who treats you like that.

17) Back To You – Selena Gomez

The back-and-forth of toxic relationships really can’t be healthy or at all nice for the people involved but I’m hard-pressed to deny they give us some great songs. This is Selena’s artsy offering from the relationship merry-go-round she got on again and speaks to what she thought was the we’re never going to get out of this chase because it will always be you situation. Considering recent events, it’ll be interesting to see what Selena’s no doubt triumphant musical return will say and sound like. It’s one of the musical chapters I’m most curious about in 2019.

18) IDGAF – Dua Lipa

Hold onto the name Dua Lipa. I have a feeling it’s one we’re going to be hearing a lot more of. She’s proven to be a new tour de force in the pop world and this track just cements the success of her quirky catchy style we could see displayed in “New Rules”. Besides that, this song is relatable AF. Who doesn’t have a person in their life they’re sick of hearing from or that they have actually managed to cut loose because they don’t give a flying…

I know I do.

Honourable Mentions:

Saturday Sun – Vance Joy

The seaside summer vibes continue with this gorgeous acoustic offering. You meet someone. A spark flies. You have to go back to your normal life. And yet… you’re falling. I hope if he wrote this about someone specific, it had a happy ending. And I hope one day, I get a story like that too. Ah, a girl can dream…

Delicate – Taylor Swift

I see you Swifties, and I hear you. I did not want to put Delicate in my honourable mentions, it deserved a place on the big list but in the end, the production and storytelling of Getaway Car won out. I had to keep my tendency for Swiftian bias in check you see.  Don’t shoot, please… This song is one of the many perfect sentiments you could use to describe the Reputation chapter. The breathy vocoder and switches between keeping a distance confidence and close vulnerability are so Taylor it’s hard to imagine it’s taken six albums for a song like this. The fact that now she chooses to ask Is it cool that I said all that? after so many years of detail-oriented diary sharing makes me laugh. Yes, Taylor it is. Please keep doing so, as soon as you can #BringOnTS7

Day Drunk – Morgan Evans

This song always puts a smile on my face. The infectious easy fun it’s inspired by just flows out of this track and makes it super catchy as well. 2018 has been a country renaissance and Morgan Evans is no exception. His debut album  Things That We Drink To is a cracker – you can check out my review here

Tell Me It’s Over – Avril Lavigne

This was only released recently but had to go in the honourable mentions because I’m damn proud of Avril Lavigne. She’s back in a big way. Her powerhouse voice is on display like never before and the unexpectedness of this musical direction makes me really excited for her new album, out in February. The mark of a good song; when you’re listening to it for the first time and are already singing before it’s over. That’s what I was doing with this one.

Venice Bitch – Lana Del Ray

This is dreamy spaced out psychadelic Lana at her best. Whilst the length of this song draws memories of Floydian and Bowieesque epics, the production by Jack Antonoff, one of the greatest modern pop producers of now, evokes a space that is entirely nebulous, a bridge between two worlds of music where it stands proudly alone. This song is hazy poetic witchery, the album that boasts this track Norman Fucking Rockwell is set to be one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2019. Add to that, the announcement from Lana herself that she  has a book of poetry in the works and it looks like the supernova magic of this coming year is set to blast us into new musical universes.

 

 

The Things That We Drink To & Why Morgan Evans The Aussie Taking American Country By Storm Should Be One Of Them

Here in Australia, we have a pretty strong drinking culture. We drink to loosen up, unwind, celebrate, commiserate. We drink when we’re succeeding, failing, happy, angry, falling in love and falling out of it.

The multitude of emotions we might raise a glass to is exactly what Morgan Evans’ debut album The Things That We Drink To explores. Over just 11 tracks (when I finished my first full listen today, I was wishing for at least 4 more) he samples any pub bar’s finest, chronicling his love at first sight experience and then falling head over heels for wife Kelsea Ballerini (who is a fabulously fierce songwriter and musician in her own right) which hits peak romance with their stunning acoustic duet, Dance With Me 

He also looks back in the way only a writer can, every twist of phrase packed full of nostalgia, memory and moments so viscerally visual, you feel like he’s handed you an album of the most intimate photographs. He’s drawn you, dancing and grooving along to the unmistakeably catchy melodies, straight from your headphones headfirst into the moments as they exist in his brain. Not everyone can do that, and this is only his debut!

He paints with the themes of youth, (Day Drunk) growing up in Australia and moving to America to pursue a career (We Dream) as well as the way life can change in an instant and how losing someone unexpectedly recircuits your entire world (title track, Things That We Drink To) 

Normally, when I’m doing an album review (and encouraging everyone to expand their musical horizons and give this a crack), I’d break it down into a track by track review. But with this album, I feel like that would be doing it a great disservice actually because it feels like such a whole – you need every song to flow to really get it. In fact a couple of times, I didn’t even feel the song change, so natural was the progression from track to track.

My interest might have started in Morgan Evans as a curiosity in the man who captured Kelsea Ballerini’s heart but as soon as I first heard his infectiously catchy Kiss Somebody which by the way, relatable as heck (who hasn’t wanted someone to kiss them or wished they were brave enough and then suddenly you’re consumed by it???) and realised he was Australian, I knew I was in. It’s always super important to me as a self-confessed music geek to support Australian music and after hearing this brilliant album, I know I’ll be a champion of Morgan as long as he’s making music

Hannah ❤

 

TAYLOR THE TITAN: Art, Mystery & Personal Narrative On Her Terms

“I’m doing better than I ever was” is the single greatest line I could ask for as a fan of Taylor Swift and her music. This is not because it shows particular songwriting prowess (for that, one should turn to the epics All Too Well, Enchanted, Dear John, Last Kiss or Getaway Car to name a few) but more for the meaning it represents.

Taylor Swift’s reclaiming of her personal narrative and road to happiness has been dissected in many a thinkpiece but to me, it can be explained in just 11 simple words

“There will be no further explanation. There will just be reputation.”

This clear-cut statement dictates that the art will be the main focus as the normal media interactions of previous promo eras are eschewed in favour of curated and deliberate choices; to share specific details that allow the narrative to be shaped on Taylor’s terms. The media is sometimes wonderfully befuddled by this; they seem unable to realise their own hand in these circumstances, if they had not burnt her at the stake, she wouldn’t have had to rise from the ashes like the most spectacular of phoenixes…

Twice now, in lieu of the long-form profiles expected when high profile magazines opt to have you as their cover star, Taylor has flipped the script. Earlier this year, she submitted a highly personal poem to Vogue, titled “The Trick To Holding On” which when you look closely, is actually far more personal than any longform profile could ever hope to get (not to mention its accompanying transformative photoshoot which offers more visual clues into Swift’s attitude, raw and vulnerable yet only to those she knows she can trust.

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I never trust a narcissist But they love me…

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Last night, she did it again this time adopting the role of the interviewer in a powerful and fascinating conversation with legendary muse and photographer, Patti Boyd. This is a power move, that speaks volumes. Swift is done offering details of her life to people who will just twist them anyway, no longer pandering to a dynamic where she was the pinnacle of a takedown culture, that infects anyone with a social media account whether they’re the perpetrator or victim. It’s no accident that the only relatively personal interview she has given in this album cycle was in regards to her powerful and blistering  testimony in her landmark sexual assault case.   Even this was a subversion of the deferentially polite persona we’d come to expect, there were no niceties here and why should there be? If someone stuck their hand up my skirt, I’d be taking no prisoners either.

I found it interesting scrolling through social media this morning at the number of people who seemed confused and caught off guard by Taylor’s decision and interest in interviewing Pattie. To me, however, the logic was clear. Patti Boyd, first as the wife of George Harrison at the height of Beatlemania, (also the muse behind his major contribution to the band, timeless love song “Something” and then later the wife of Eric Clapton – she ALSO inspired “Layla” represents an intersection of publicity, art and mystery that Taylor seems to be striving for.

Patti Boyd and many of the other famous individuals Taylor mentions in this interview; Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull have a kinship with Swift for they too lived through storms of intense media scrutiny and speculation, mercifully for them, this was in  the absence  of social media and yet even though at one time, it must have felt as though the world knew everything about them, somehow they stail maintain an intoxicating and tantalising air of mystery. Perhaps it’s because their every move could not be documented with ease or because  by the time newspapers were published, their lives might have moved on. Whatever the reason, they struck a balance Taylor seems keen to recreate.

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Mick and Marianne in 1969.

Her astute knowledge of creative tour de forces who came before her and her unique understanding of the artist and muse dynamic (she has been both) inform her innate sense of storytelling and perceptions of fame. Among the plethora of icons mentioned earlier, people such as Zelda Fitzgerald, Audrey Hepburn, James Taylor, Carole King and Joni Mitchell to name a few are also influences. Some survived the eye of the storm and still call the big stage home, a longevity that she herself could enjoy whilst others have to quote Taylor herself, “chosen the Rose Garden over Madison Square,” an outcome which seems more likely given the things we know Taylor values.

However, although her Instagram feed no longer reads like the most personal of photo albums, it is now slick, selective and sophisticated, I think it would be a grave mistake to assume she will ever stop songwriting and sharing details of her life as she chooses, even if they are framed by other artist’s voices, because to her songwriting seems synonymous with breathing.

Although she has vowed media silence, some may argue that Taylor Swift has shared more details than ever before. Her behind the scenes songwriting series, poems, playlists, cat photos and dedication to her fans indicate an attention to detail and titanic creative focus that is unparalleled.

She has said that Reputation marks her most “cathartic release yet and now that it’s out in the world, she can go back to ‘normal’ songwriting. Whatever that looks like in the future, I hope the intimacy of letting the art speak for itself, the strength of her rewriting her personal narrative and the air of tantalising mystery that now surrounds Taylor Swift because we no longer see her every move remains the same.

Long, may Titan Taylor rule her world.

For Demi

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS MENTION OF; SUBSTANCE AND ALCOHOL ABUSE.

Dear Demi,

It felt wrong to talk about the new song you put out in the world in any other form but this one. It didn’t feel right to break it down and give opinions on such a raw piece of your artistic truth. The only way forward for me to process my feelings about this song was to turn to writing as I always do but this time, in a letter to you.

It’s dark outside when I watch the video. There’s been a ball of unshed tears I seem to have been struggling to swallow for the last fifteen minutes. It came in a wave of tangled emotion as soon as I saw the opening shots.

First, let’s get one thing straight. You say you want to be a role model but you’re only human. That was so searingly honest. I can’t imagine what fame, success and the pressures that come with it do to your life. I can’t imagine having every moment and interaction dissected to mean something in the great tapestry of your celebrity construction. At the end of the day, you are a human, just like you said, feeling the same emotions and perhaps facing similar struggles to many who listen to your music. You go through the same things, just in a heightened arena.

You may think you’re not a role model but in releasing this song and its video, you are exhibiting lionhearted candid courage. It would be easy for you to hide away, promote things from afar and pretend like everything was OK by offering us the highlight reels of life but you don’t do that. You share private, raw, hard things and that is so brave. You take responsibility for what happens to you and the choices you make. You show all of us that it’s OK to stumble and fall sometimes. You did that spectacularly with Simply Complicated.

I don’t claim to know the first thing about addiction or sobriety. I do know that it’s never a simple black and white clean-cut situation but then again, when it comes to life, what is? I can’t imagine the urges you have fought off in the past or the strength of the urges that pulled you under again. I can, however, understand that after six years you felt caught in the eye of a storm, all too familiar yet no less powerful. Perhaps this came with self-loathing, anger, sadness, disgust and a bunch of other emotions, I’m sure.

Admitting the need for and being willing to accept help is a brilliant first step. In sharing this with the world, you make us inherently complicit in your recovery process. You’re holding yourself accountable by making sure people know what’s been going on.  You let people out there who are also valiantly fighting every day know that they are not alone and if they have relapsed, it is not the end.

Some of the people you apologised to, Demi won’t need it. Their loyalty will not waver. They will have your back because their priority is your health and happiness.

I know recovery is a long, complicated and never-ending road. I know the urges will come again. I know it’ll be a fight each and every day so I’m sending you so much love and good vibes and strength. Take it one day at a time. Celebrate little victories. We all want you to live the best life you can. I’m rooting for you. I hope the sharing of this music and the beginning of #D7 is the start of a happy, healthy creative, love-blooming heart-shaking always-learning freedom.

Love your birthday twin,

Hannah ❤

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction/mental health etc. please feel free to reach out to Lifeline on 13 11 14. You are not alone. You will get through this. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Sending all of you so much love xxx.

#ManchesterStrong

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One year. That’s how long it’s been since lives were changed forever and 22 of them lost at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. I know this blog has been silent for a little while. There’s been a lot of other things that have had to take top priority but when I realised on the train that it was the anniversary of such a horrific and heartbreaking event, I couldn’t as a fan of music, in good conscience not say something about it.

I still a year on, struggle to comprehend that someone could be so evil as to intentionally hurt and kill innocent children. My heart broke all over again  tonight as I remembered thinking about the people whose first concert that would have been, who might have saved up for that concert to buy a ticket with their own money, it might’ve been the first time they went without parents and for some, it was probably a light in their life, a bright spot that if they could just get to, everything would be better.

That kind of thinking drives you mad so you have to do it in moderation. If there is ever even anything remotely resembling a silver lining in this whole dark and twisted series of events, it’s One Love Manchester. The benefit concert where many high profile artists donated their time for a televised sold-out stadium show, sending a message; we are stronger together. we will not be broken, hate will never win. Let me remind you of some magic that happened that night.

What do you see in these videos? Because I first of all see a girl who showed she has the courage of a lion heart. It astounds me, looking back that Ariana Grande had the inner strength to not only pull that event together in such a short amount of time but also that she felt strong enough to get up on stage and perform in what would have been a high trauma trigger situation.

Then I see a crowd full of people, hearts on sleeves, arm in arm, regardless of who they are outside this moment who refuse to be silenced by fear. I see artists who are performing because they love music and they know the magic that live music, in particular, can create and conjure.

And you know what I’ve seen in the year since?

I’ve seen musicians continue to play in stadiums. I’ve seen music that is raw and honest, brave and vulnerable. I’ve been in crowds of thousands – all of us singing the words, dancing like no one was watching, embracing strangers, being fearlessly ourselves and in doing so making spaces like concerts feel like beating hearts of humanity, safe, accepted and just enjoying music. All of this is strong and brave. A metaphorical middle finger that hate didn’t win in Manchester and it won’t and hasn’t won yet.

So while we feel unexplainable heartache and grief for the people we lost, their families and their tribe of people who loved them, let’s not forget what good we could all do when we came together.

Keep buying tickets to shows. Keep living life. Treat people with kindness. Choose love. Be good to people. Raise each other up. Reach out a hand. Connect. Let people in. Fill the world with light. It doesn’t mean there won’t be hate, pain, loss or tragedy but it does mean we’re putting up a good fight.

❤ ❤ ❤ Hannah xxx

#ManchesterStrong

The One With Harry, All The Love And The Hoarse Voice…

A Rubix Cube and the hands of someone trying to fit it together appear on the screen at Qudos Bank Arena. Pink Floyd’s ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’  and Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘Horses’ (but more on that later) play over the speaker. You can almost feel 21,000 people holding their breath. The edge of insane energy that appeared earlier in the pre-show playlist with a full singalong to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and One Direction’s ‘Olivia’ has faded a little. We’re saving our energy after all…

 

The Preatures, an Australian rock band, fronted by the awesome Isabella Manfredi were the perfect choice for opening act. Their blend of guitar riffs, groovin’ and some cheeky throwaways about the man we’d all come to see had the audience eating out of the palm of their  hand, which is harder than it looks when you’re an opening act. I think the best moment of their set, however, came when they took things down a notch and it was just Manfredi, a piano and an arena full of phone lights as she sang a song we could all relate to; “Your Fan” off their second album, Girlhood

When the lights go down for the second time, the noise is almost deafening. I can’t imagine what it sounded like from the stage but from our seats, it sounded like a night wild with possibility, as thousands of people were fearlessly themselves, uncaring of what others thought and just experiencing unbridled pure joy. And boy, was it ever.

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Side note: As someone who’s in a wheelchair, I’m used to seats that are up in the rafters, especially at Qudos Bank Arena so I don’t know who was responsible for the change but thank you so much. You made me feel included in a way I haven’t before and that meant a hell of a lot. It wouldn’t surprise me if Harry had some hand in the decision. A huge thank you to the crew last night, while I think of it, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure Harry and the band could give us magic. It takes an army and you’re a well-oiled one.

But back to the show: The band comes on. The cheers get louder. It’s Adam, Clare, Mitch and Sarah, extremely talented musicians who spend every second looking as though they’ve hit the jackpot. And then, there he is.

In a caramel coloured custom Calvin Klein suit, complete with pointy-toed highlighter- yellow boots, Harry Styles made it immediately clear, he’s putting on a show like his heroes; Mick, Freddie, Stevie, Elton John and Shania to name a few.

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Sydney, Live On Tour.

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That attention to fashion was mirrored in his audience; people wore bold colours, letting themselves indulge in a way they perhaps wouldn’t feel comfortable otherwise.

Exhibit A:

But that’s just the thing about Harry. From the minute he flashes that megawatt grin and those dimples appear, he makes you feel comfortable. He makes you feel no matter where you are in the arena, that he wants you to be there. With a “Hi, I’m Harry” and a “This place is bloody massive!” he puts so much energy into the show, dancing, singing and just being infectiously happy that at the end of the almost 2 hour set, I’m left wondering how on earth, he’ll do it all again tonight in Brisbane. But he will. The same cheeky bantering, his new love affair with Daryl Braithwaite’s ‘Horses’ – he must have had us sing the chorus 3 or 4 times and he got ridiculously offended when someone suggested that was more than enough and his seamless passion for the music that made him and the stuff he’s doing now, will leave every person with the same warmth I saw reflected on every face last night.

Harry, you were so grateful for our support of you, even going so far as to say “Things like this don’t happen to boys like me.” But, you deserve it. I’m a concert fiend and I can safely say, never before have I felt so loved, accepted and safe in a space, in my life. I hope you know that it’s not just me. You made people feel so free in themselves, whether with a wave of the rainbow flag or encouraging us to do whatever made us happiest, that there was a full on dance party for an hour after the show in the venue foyer. I danced with strangers unabashedly and sang at the top of my lungs, walking to the train station and then had to fight the urge to dance in the rain on the way home. It was 2am by the time I crawled into bed But I didn’t care.

On a personal note – in the year so since your music came out, I’ve been through and had to deal with some very challenging times, including when people have been less than kind. But thanks to your album, the friends I’ve made because of it and the way you wear your heart on your sleeve, unapologetically baring your values, I’ve gotten through. Not only have you given me some wonderful tunes, but you helped me to become more aware of what I stand for, and the life I want to lead. Treating people with kindness has always been innately my way but you’ve helped it transform more into a conscious choice to go above and beyond. Thank you isn’t big enough for all of that. Lately, I’ve been struggling to find myself a little,  but last night, for the first time in an age, I felt free and unjudged because of the attitude and atmosphere you cultivated. You helped me find the way to a piece of myself last night and I will always be grateful for that.

*sniffs* I think I better call it a day, before I start crying, in a cool way obviously 😂

All the love,

Hannah ❤ x

Love Simon is Important Magic ✨

I’ve never been to a movie, where everyone clapped and cheered as the credits rolled. That, is until today. Today, I went to see Love, Simon.

If you don’t know the film, allow me to enlighten you. It would be my pleasure.

Aside from an absolutely killer soundtrack curated by boy-wonder magic producer Jack Antonoff, Love, Simon has made history as the first major motion picture to feature a main character who’s gay.

The whole point of the movie is his journey to accept himself for who he is and to feel comfortable enough in his own skin to be that person around those he loves and just in every aspect of his life.

I don’t know if I’ve made this clear before on here or not and if I haven’t I’m so sorry. But this blog is a safe space. All who believe in tolerance, equality and the freedom to be who you are without fear of persecution are welcome here. I believe deeply that love, no matter a person’s biological identity is one of if not the most powerful thing we as humans can experience and give in our lifetime. The idea that certain people should be denied that, because of who they love is abhorrent to me.

I despise labels. The boxes that society tells us we have to try and fit in so the anal-retentive parts of our brain can apparently cope with the world. Well, guess what? People aren’t one-dimensional. We don’t fit in boxes. We can be so many things at once and every one of them is OK.

I cried a bunch of times during this movie, much to the amusement of the person I was with. One of the reasons I cried was out of sheer happiness that this much-needed representation was finally happening. It’s beautiful to know that while the world has got a long way to go, we’ve made some really important, long-overdue progress. Maybe one day, we’ll live in a world where I won’t have to write a blog post about this because it’ll be so damn normal. We definitely won’t be seeing headlines like this one

Love, Simon will probably  save some of those people so don’t ever underestimate the importance of representation and the idea that “everyone deserves a love story.” It’s also wonderful that people like Keiynan Lonsdale who plays Bram in the film feel comfortable enough to be who they are and are in fact a shining example of what can happen when you let yourself be YOU.

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(📸 by @isabeldurant) || Happy #Pride !! Damn it really is the perfect word for it I swear!! You are so perfect, trust me, don't just accept who you are, rejoice in that 😆! I can't express enough how my life/perspective has exploded with colour since choosing to simply be myself. I apply it to all aspects of my life, not just sexuality, it's bigger than that. When you're free to be yourself, you make so much room in your fucking mind to be more creative, to love better, to feel better, to think more clearly.. it's the best decision I've ever made.. but also the hardest. I don't take it lightly, I never will, & I understand how each and every persons circumstance is different. So if you're not ready, don't rush it, it's your journey… which is beautiful to think about… it's all yours, no one else's journey & story but YOURS. What I do know for fact & feeling, is that your personal happiness and love for yourself is the single most important thing.. because when you love you, truly, you know how to love others, and you begin to fall in love with life itself. ❤️💛💚💙💜 x

A post shared by 🌳🌊❤️💫🌸 Keiynan Lonsdale 🔑🎶👁🌈🍫 (@keiynanlonsdale) on

There’s a line in the movie that hit me harder than any other; “You get to exhale now.” This line, without spoiling anything refers to what is allowed to happen when you’re given room to be yourself. You don’t have to hold your breath. Be fiercely and unapologetically you. We’ll get there, all of us.

It’s because of this line that I recommend everyone, no matter if you have ties to the LGBTQIA+ community or not goes to see this film. We all have parts of ourselves we’re too scared to show, we hold our breath, worried about what other people will think even if it’s subconscious.

If you need permission, I’m giving to you now.

Let’s enjoy being ourselves. Let’s accept and love and be kind and fill the world with the brightest soul colour we can. Tell everyone you know

YOU CAN EXHALE.

Love to all and here if you need me

Hannah x