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…

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BkSg2NYFnaW/?taken-by=ddlovato

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:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BiD-1cqlrI7/?taken-by=hannahthewildflower

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.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVNea7AgXSf/?hl=en&taken-by=keiynanlonsdale

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

The Aces Make My Heart Feel Volcanic

The Aces, a girl rock band from  Provo, Utah weren’t on my radar. I didn’t know them from a bar of soap. That is until the glorious day my wonderful blue haired mermadian music loving friend Winona started posting about them on social media. I trust Winona’s music taste like no other. Our whole friendship began because of our love of music. She’s the one who got me into Haim and Bleachers properly, to name a few so I pay attention to who she’s listening to. And boy, am I glad I did? This debut album was killer good.

TRACK 1: VOLCANIC LOVE

The riff on this track played with absolute fire by Katie Henderson gets inside your bones It sounds like the kind of song you’d listen to in summer, cruising down the highway, windows open in a car full of friends as each of you tries with varying success to work on your tan. Cristal Ramirez’s vocals in this one are raw and blistered as though the impact of this great volcanic love (that in one breath makes you want to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction and in the next, you’ve tangled together again) has consumed her vocals, such are the strength of the scars, memories and moments she sings about.

TRACK 2: STUCK

… Sorry, I got distracted. I was too busy dancing. Something tells me this album is all about the riffs. That opening sounds like it could be spun off a 70’s vinyl. The kind kids hide from their parents and play when they’re alone in the house, supposed to be studying. It’s amazing. And then, the drums kick in. They take this sick track to a whole new level. Can you girls and Haim collab soon, pretty please?!

By the way, just a note. I know miscommunication or lack of it at all isn’t healthy for anyone and I wish some of the people who create the music I love would just say what they felt when they did because I want them to be happy. However, when they finally realise what they should have said which might have left them with somewhere to go and the only way they can process this is through words, we get some pretty banging and hella relatable tracks so that’s a bit of a tricky one.

TRACK 3: FAKE NICE 

OK, where has this song been? I’ve needed it. So have you. This is the song you have to resist the urge to passive aggressively send to the people who are nice and charming in front of adults but are awful when it’s just you. The kind of people that when they’re nice to you, it feels like a trap or the ones who just will never be aware enough of the world around them to know how they’ve hurt you, so you have to psych yourself up to be nice. It’s not super obvious, I have personal experience related to this song, is it? Also, I love the way the vocals sound fake nice, dripping in sweet and sarcastic honey.

TRACK 4: LOVIN’ IS BIBLE

Religion and love metaphors make for pretty solid songs. This is no exception. It’s the intoxicating rush of falling in love when you want everything they can give you. It’s all new and exciting. It’s the knowledge that you can’t keep your hands to yourself, I mean you could but why would you want to?

TRACK 5: JUST LIKE THAT:

Love can be blind. This is what happens when the rose coloured glasses come off. Your friends have been trying to tell you for ages that this person is no good, but like most things, for it to really sink in, you have to realise yourself. And when you do, it hurts.

TRACK 6: LAST ONE

This track has amazing rhythm, it’s like a poem, the kind that you conjure when you’ve had a lot of time to think. It sounds like a mantra, something you need to repeat so your heart and brain don’t betray you. It’s hard when you lose pieces of yourself because of someone else. But I think it’s kind of fun to rediscover them and figure out how to put yourself back together.

So far, this one is my favourite. Maybe it’s because I write about my life too and have made similar promises to myself…

TRACK 7: STRONG ENOUGH 

This sounds like a Jack Antonoff record! Can these girls work with him soon? Oh boy… This song is flirtation but also fierceness. It’s daring the other person to be good enough to stay on your mind. But it’s also kind of making them aware that your job is not to make them feel better about their chances of being with you. They’re not lying. 100% honest and independent. If you can’t step up to the plate and compliment, not complete them, then buh-bye.

TRACK 8: HOLIDAY 

This is a song with a sick beat. Love the synth. This one’s a little emotionally confused. You want to be his escape and you know you could do it. Craving closeness. But… at the same time, he’s consuming you, leaving you anxious. Know your worth and the value of your time. Walk away. Live your life. Oh, but you know he probably wants you to stay. Honey, if he really wanted you, there’d be no doubt.

TRACK 9: STAY

This one is desperate spilling of feelings, just as someone’s turned away. You’re shocked and so are they. There’s a pause. A prayer that they feel the same way. And then you hold your breath and both jump exhilaratingly over the edge. Thank God. Trusting someone with your feelings is a big deal, especially if you’re brave enough to not hold back. It’s all heady rush, dizzying touch.

Shoutout to the lyric: “We’re broke but we still party.” Millenials who obsesses over avocado toast or concert tickets, in my case can relate.

TRACK 10: BAD LOVE 

I feel like this one should be compulsory listening for those in the public eye or anyone who feels judged for their relationship. A relationship is between the two people in it. No one else’s business. Let them say what they want. We’ll love in spite of it all. You shouldn’t have to hide that you’re in love because it’s a beautiful privilege. Although there are cases, where being blind and deaf to your friends trying to help you leads to heartbreak, but in the end, no matter what, trust your instinct.

TRACK 11: PUT IT ON THE LINE 

Angelic vocals to open.  The message of the tune = Know your worth. Get rid of people who don’t treat you well. Don’t take the crap. You deserve better. Even if it hurts like hell to let go, it’ll feel better being free. I can relate to this song on so many levels. I wish I couldn’t but that’s life. What happens if they’re the ones who are always supposed to be there, that are the best at playing mind games? Well, if that’s the case even if you fake it till you make it, do your own thing and don’t give them the satisfication they crave of knowing it hurts or that you even give a damn.

TRACK 12: HURRICANE

PIANO! To me, this opening piano sounds a bit like the sister of Taylor Swift’s 1989 World Tour Enchanted/Wildest Dreams mashup. Beautiful, soft, jagged, sad vocals. I hate it when you’re at the end of something or you’ve hit a roadblock in your story with someone and it leaves you doubting the whole thing. This is heartbreak, spilled over piano keys. You wonder how you could be so stupid to let them in and isn’t it the absolute worst when you start to become guarded and even a little jaded because they hurt you so badly? The past beckons and you wish you could hide there but the thing about truths and pain, no matter how hard it is to take, you can’t un-know something or go back in time to not experience it. It just happens. And you change. But it will feel OK again, someday.

TRACK 13: WAITING FOR YOU 

Sonic hypnotic desperation. Anticipation. Pining. Sometimes when you want someone to understand how you feel, you stress because you’re nervous to spell it out. Well, maybe the other person really wants it but is scared to seem too eager. Get on the same page. Communicate. But understand, it’s hard for us overthinkers. The harmonies are really cool and so is the falsetto.

Overall, this album was 🔥. What a debut. Everyone needs it now. Lorde is a big influence for these girls so I think they’d be happy with the judgement that this album is as much a house party complete colour spectrum soundtrack of youth as Melodrama. These girls are ones we better watch out for, I can’t wait to see what they do next!

Now, all we need is for them to come to Australia. Get on that Gudinski, and Frontier crew, pretty please x

A Golden Almost Hour With Kacey Musgraves

Unfortunately, this third offering from Kacey Musgraves ends up being just shy of 45 golden minutes. When the neatly packaged 13 tracks ended as I listened for the first time on Monday night through flaking headphones, I blinked as though waking from a dream… surely it couldn’t be over yet?

Now if you’re sitting there, having clicked on this and you’re not really sure who Kacey Musgraves is, I’m coming to your rescue but first of all, where have you been?!

OK, Kacey is a Texas-born country artist (I know, I know – you’re all like Hannah we get it, you love country music 🙄) whose on the nose commentary through sharp lyrics and catchy melodies about the truth of family life, growing up and some other things Nashville deems a tad controversial make her unlike anybody else, a rebel of sorts who claims to be no one but herself.

Anyway, Google will tell you everything you need to know about this country queen. Let’s get to unpacking this stellar multi-layered album…

***

TRACK 1: SLOW BURN

What a wonderous opening track. It’s soft and slow and kind of sounds like that space between when you’re still awake but you’re really close to falling asleep. Its rhythms are hypnotising, as though you’re actually mesmerised and warm, watching a fire as it actually slowly burns under the stairs or in your cosy living room when you’re snuggled under a blanket. Also, those first few lines of lyrics pack a punch especially “I can be hot. I can be cold. Grandma cried when I pierced my nose.” Relatable. My grandpa, if I recall correctly was not all that happy I got my ears pierced at age 10.

TRACK 2: LONELY WEEKEND

This song starts off with slightly slumped shoulders and pangs of loneliness. It’s accepting that being lonely is OK. And then it’s deciding to pull funny faces in the mirror, blasting tunes and having a solo dance party. This is a FOMO anthem. You know what? It’s OK to be alone on a Friday night and go to bed at 9:00. Don’t compare yourself to other people’s social media fun. I mean, sure it might hurt at first and you might glare daggers at your to-do list as it mocks you, but eventually, you will find beauty and freedom in being alone.

TRACK 3: BUTTERFLIES

If Cupid’s arrow had a theme song, this would be it. Butterflies is that spinning around your room, giddy with feelings heady rush of falling in love. It’s smiling at a text but trying to hide it from the people around you, because it’s new and exciting. It’s not being afraid to laugh with your head thrown back as you walk down the street. It’s thinking you knew all the colours the world could be painted in but realising there’s a whole spectrum you didn’t know about. Shimmery summer days where the sky is a brilliant shade of blue and everything feels light. I know they say you should learn to love yourself before you think about loving someone else but I don’t think that’s true. I think knowing that someone looks at you and doesn’t care what baggage you have but sees their forever makes you realise just how brilliant you are and that those things you’ve been trying to make yourself believe are actually true.

TRACK 4: OH, WHAT A WORLD

From little things, big things grow. Don’t take the world for granted. Recognise the magic in the small things. Be grateful for the people who make it easy to be yourself, the ones you feel like you’ve known forever. This is a really poignant reminder. Love, especially is not something you should take for granted but rather something I hope you see the wonder in, that we’re lucky enough to have our stars align.

TRACK 5: MOTHER

Such a sweet little gem of an interlude. To me, it’s almost a lullaby, stitched from memories and nostalgia. It sounds like the kind of song you’d listen to, when you get to the point in your life where you realise that you really didn’t know that much after all and that life is just a white-knuckled ride for everyone, because no one has done this before and they won’t again. It’s a one-shot situation. So, do me a favour. Hug your mother. Tell her you love her and don’t shy away from acknowledging all the sacrifices she more than likely made to help you to where you are.

TRACK 6: SPACE COWBOY

My heart stopped the first time I heard this song on an unassuming Friday. It left me breathless. I’ve had my fair share of trying to make people stay, when you’ve hit the impasse of the sunset fading. And even though you’re desperate, down on your knees at some point you have to stand up, slowly raise your hands and let them go. But then again, I’ve also been the space cowboy. The person who it was doing no good to stay. Sometimes you do have to close your eyes and run for your own sake, regardless of the pain you know you’re leaving the other person with. It’s OK to put yourself first.  For me, this song is the embodiment of the idea that ‘if you love someone, you set them free and if they were meant to be yours, they’ll come back to you.’

TRACK 7: LOVE IS A WILD THING

The message in this one is simple. Love comes when you least expect it and once it comes for you, there’s no escaping it (not that I know anyone who would want to). I think that’s what makes it magic; its wild and unpredictable style. Not to mention, that once you have it, it’s precious and fragile and light. It helps you forget what life was like before you had it, in the first way. The metaphors here are accurate; it is like flowers in the concrete. Also, the FALSETTO VOCALS!!!

TRACK 8: HAPPY & SAD

I’m not going to lie. This one hit me hard. The line “I’m the kind of person who starts getting kinda nervous when I’m having the time of my life” describes my brain perfectly. I think it could be because I feel things too deeply from wearing my heart on my sleeve. I really struggle to live in the moment. It happens a lot to me at concerts, for example. About halfway through the night, I start to feel a little sad because this moment that in the lead-up has brought me so much joy and is bringing me an indescribable happiness is soon going to be over, with only memories left. Maybe that’s a little fatalistic but it’s the way I feel.

TRACK 9: VELVET ELVIS

OK, first of all this is the cutest name for a song. Everyone has a sketch of what they hope their person will be like and what forever might look like with them. For Kacey, it’s Velvet Elvis. And who better than the high volume haired powder blue suit wearing pelvis-grinding king who in my humble opinion has one of the greatest romantic songs ever written in his catalogue to aspire for? I feel like the whole golden microphone vibe goes well with this daydream…

TRACK 10: WONDER WOMAN

Being on the same page with people is wonderful, isn’t it? Knowing they’ll love you for who you are, warts and all. You don’t need to be a superhero. You can laugh till you cry or snort and then maybe in the same breath even,  drown in tears and snotty tissues. It doesn’t matter. You can talk about hard things and shatter perfection. You can grow. You can get way too excited over simple things. You can be whoever you are. Isn’t that liberating?

TRACK 11: HIGH HORSE

Now, I can hear y’all (yeah, I said y’all) saying you don’t like country music because it’s just too twee or whatever. To save myself from going blue in the face while I argue that country music is brilliant, let me just ask you to press play on this track. Tell me, did THAT sound like country music to you? Did you hear that dance beat with flecks of subtle banjo? You pushed the envelope Kace, and I love it. I think Shania, Taylor and Kelsea definitely approve. But, aside from all that, this song is relatable. Who doesn’t have people in their life that they wish would get off the high horse and stop thinking they’re better than everyone else? I know I do but I don’t kiss and tell so ssh…

TRACK 12: GOLDEN HOUR

Excuse me, while I float along dreamily on a cloud to this love song (: It’s so pretty. Such soft and warm vocals. I love that this is the title track because it means that the love she feels has infused every part of her life and that’s amazing. Ruston, thank you for inspiring such beautiful tunes. I hope we all experience a love story and married bliss like this.

TRACK 13: RAINBOW

I knew as soon as I saw the title that this song was going to hurt because it would strike a chord but also heal and boy, was I right. A lot of hard things are happening for me right now and to be truthful, without a hint of melodrama, they always kind of are go varying degrees whether they pulse in the background or slap me in the face. I don’t know if I can describe how hard I hope the idea “that there’s always been a rainbow hanging over your head” is true for me. I really want anyone who is struggling right now to listen to this one and know that it has to get better. Hope is the most powerful thing we have.

This album is overall beautifully brilliant. Hope you like my review

Hannah xo ❤ The Jukebox Junkie

What’s In The Jukebox? March/April Mood:

So, I’m a self-obsessed music geek who spends way too much, getting down to sick beats all over the place. A lot of my favourite artists have been sharing playlists lately and I listen to all kinds of music, new and old so I’ve decided I’ll be regularly sharing 10 tracks that I’m loving across all kinds of space and time. But because this is only a taster of the fun to come, we’ll go with 5 today.

If you’ve heard these before, hope you enjoy jamming!

In no particular order, (because I am an incredibly indecisive person), here they are;

  1. 1950 – King Princess (2018)

OK, so King Princess is an awesome new find of mine. She is the first act to be signed to Mark Ronson’s new label(he’s the guy that gave us the bangers Valerie and Uptown Funk). And if this song is any indication, she’s going to be around for a long while yet. I should also acknowledge that it was Harry Styles who led me to her because of his cryptic lyric posting…

2. Tequila – Dan + Shay (2018)

This country jam hit me in the heart. I’m not a drinker, but who doesn’t know what it feels like to have memories of a person you don’t want to take up space anymore surface at the worst times? Been there.  Also, on a completely unrelated yet equally important note, props to Dan + Shay for expanding the mainstream visual romantic narrative to include somebody disabled. I’m not deaf, but I am in a wheelchair so it means a lot that you show someone with a disability is  capable of being in a relationship, being desired and quite simply the choice of someone able-bodied.

3. Call Out My Name – The Weeknd (2018)

He’s back. Full disclosure, The Weeknd isn’t really my cup of tea in terms of music I like to listen to. But I was lost in the rabbit hole that is Youtube, laughing hysterically over the on-point reactions of AJayII when I came across this track and her reaction (which you can watch here) But this track grabbed me, maybe because (without sounding too cheesy) you can feel the pain emanating from him. I’m not one to diagnose the emotional DNA of songs because I’m a writer myself and I definitely use my own experiences and real people in what I create but, I think it’s self-explanatory who this message in a bottle was meant for…

4. Trust Fund Baby – Why Don’t We

British boys singing a ridiculously infectious pop tune. Who knew that formula would work?! OK, but all jokes aside, this tune had me involuntarily bopping from the minute I heard it. It’s bound to get stuck in your head and I’m sure we’re on the cusp of it getting some serious radio play here in Oz, courtesy of my girl Ash London, Smallzy and all the other high energy contemporary radio DJ’s that keep us company on the drive home or in our rooms when we need to enter the cleaning zone.

Finally, the 5th track I’m telling you all about is a throwback because I’m an old soul…

OK, so if you don’t know me, I’m a huge Fleetwood fan. Steve Nicks, in my opinion, is the mystical leader of a witch coven that Lorde, Lana and Florence call home. Silver Springs is a forgotten track, a hidden gem off the album that 1 in 4 American households own. It’s the song Stevie Nicks cried for, as it was cut from the standard version for being too long and softly heartbroken instead of the well-disguised upbeat quasi-flippancy of ‘I Don’t Want To Know’ which rounds out this killer album. With the kind of lyrics that leave me emotionally  winded – ‘You’ll never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you’ this song is just another shining jewel in the crown that is Rumors, for someone who is left fascinated by the twisty multi-sided double crossing shapes that are the hearts of Fleetwood Mac (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, get yourself to Google and settle in for the rollercoaster that was the band, with some piping hot tea and something that will stop your jaw from living permanenently on the floor).

OK, that’s enough jabber from me. Resume normal programming, go back to your grooving.

I just want you to remember three things for me:

  1. You are good enough and you can always feel free to be whatever makes you happiest with me on this blog and across social media.
  2. Treat people with kindness, always. Trust me, it’s actually a lot easier than any alternative.
  3. You are never too cool to lose your mind over whatever music you like (screw guilty pleasures, just love what you love) and it’s OK to have an interest in pop culture. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy, uneducated or shallow and uncaring about the world. It just means you can give your social activist brains a little R&R.

I hope it’s nice, where you are.

Love Hannah x