Sunday, 3 July 2016

How To Get Away With Murder Review

Four days. That's how long it took me to watch two seasons and no I did not get much sleep during that time. I knew I shouldn't have reactivated my Netflix..

How To Get Away With Murder (fondly referred to as htgawm because who honestly has time to sit and type the full title out?) stars the incredible Viola Davis as Annalise Keating, a law professor at a top university in Philadelphia. She employs five of her students, who are known as the Keating 5, to work for her and her two assistants, and what follows is more drama than the average lawyer should have to deal with.

How can the writers make a bunch of law students investigating crimes exciting? Get them directly involved in a murder, that's how.

Before you worry, the script isn't filled to the brim with law terms that you need to wrap your head around nor is the show focused on the law aspect; it's more about the drama surrounding the consequences of not following the law.

I also wasn't expecting them to find room to squeeze in love triangles but hey, they did it and it worked surprisingly well, bringing out emotion from some of the more closed-off personalities.

Okay so back to the drama: I love plot twists and this show presents them impeccably, I can't even tell you how many times I had to pause it to take a moment to mull it over in my head. There were so many plot twists that every time I got close to figuring out who the killer was (or so I thought), another theory was thrown in.

What makes it so unique is the use of both flashbacks and flashforwards so that we see the outcome of the murders, but have to spend the whole season figuring out what lead to them, who did it and why and yes you will be shocked. I held my breath for a good two minutes at the end of the season two finale because I had no idea what to expect.

I had heard nothing but good things about this show and I figured if Matt McGorry is in it, it must be worth watching, but I didn't expect the rest of the cast to be so flawless. Just like with The Affair, the acting in this show is consistent.

We've got a strong female lead who is flawed but even in her most vulnerable moments is definitely never deemed to be weak; this woman knows what she's doing and she does it well. Sure, she has her moments of heartbreak but who doesn't? Annalise Keating is the character who keeps everything together and my faith in her never falters despite her often risky decisions.

The main gay character (yes, there are multiple!) has broken stereotypes in the sense that he's definitely not shy about it. Not once is his sexuality mentioned in a derogatory way or used against him, and it's viewed as completely normal by the rest of the team because let's face it, it is normal. He gets his heartbroken and goes through exactly the same struggles that anyone in any relationship would. Connor Walsh, ladies and gentleman, is how you write sexuality into a show.

McGorry's character, Asher Millstone, is undoubtedly one of the most cliché and annoying members of the Keating 5 but he's been one of my favourites because he brings humour to an otherwise very intense series with his facial expressions alone. Typically speaking, we should hate Asher because truthfully, he's pretty arrogant, but then you catch him looking like a confused puppy and all is forgiven.

One thing I will say about this show is that you need to focus on it. You may see that as a bad thing but think about it this way; it's serves as a foolproof distraction at the end of a long day.

There's corruption, there's heartbreak, there's representation and there's deception; it's no wonder fans keep coming back for more. 

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Playlists For Every Occasion: 8tracks Edition

A few months ago we shared our favourite Spotify playlists with you, so here is the 8tracks edition that we promised! 

8tracks is for those of us who love very specific playlists and love discovering new music; it's also great if you want to be surprised because you can't view the tracklist in full* before you start listening so it's very much a case of putting your trust in the creator. 

They're also a great way to express your feelings through the music, with the playlists mentioned here being prime examples of people who just want to let their feelings out through music in the hopes that others can relate. 

1. Mom's Car by sincerelysansa

The title of this playlists screams "childhood" and what I love the most about it is the lack of cheesy pop songs; it's music that you wouldn't exactly pinpoint as music from your childhood but it certainly makes you feel nostalgic with the classic feel-good songs.

2. wake up by mydraco

Unless you're one of the lucky few who don't struggle to get out of bed every morning, I think you'll find that you need this playlist. I rely on it, especially when it's still dark out when I wake up. It's not motivational music but instead it's calming and helps to reduce stress.

3. assassin training by pietrvs

This playlist contains music that I would never listen to unless it's in a Marvel movie, which makes sense considering it's a fanmix based on The Winter Soldier and Black Widow. This is the perfect workout playlist that doesn't contain motivational pop but does contain the kind of music that makes you feel like you can do anything.

4. Three Hours of Studying by septemberwildflowers

This is the playlist that got me through three months worth of long nights and weekends in which all I did was coursework. In other words, if you have a deadline or you know you're going to need to focus for a long period of time; this playlist is for you. It's calming and uplifting and I promise you it will help you to focus on nothing but whatever it is that you need to be doing.

5. Music Box Covers by whinychester

I have a huge weakness for instrumental pieces and so what could be better than a playlist dedicated to music box covers of my favourite songs? There are some in here that you never knew could possibly exist, but they're all absolutely beautiful.

Bonus playlist: there's a part two!!

6. despondent by briannafaiith

Just like in our Spotify edition, we figured that providing you with a playlist to comfort you when you feel low was important. Sometimes you don't want to listen to positive, upbeat tracks; you just want to listen to music that acts as a security blanket.

8. I'm Still Breathing by artistcastiel

This one is inspired by Sia's absolute masterpiece 'Alive' so you immediately know it's going to be powerful and make you feel like you're invincible (another hint is Walk The Moon's bright yellow album cover above). This playlist is definitely one of the more upbeat ones that we've selected and is actually part two of a series, so I guess you could treat the two together as a therapy session of sorts.

9. Feel Better, Buttercup by suhaazka

Another number on the list, another therapeutic playlist. The tags on this one are literally "feel better" and "you are not alone" so that along with the title should help to set the tone but in case you were wondering, this one is a combination of both soothing songs and positive ones so you're getting the best of both worlds.

10. fall asleep by mydraco

This is the even better response to mydraco's 'wake up' playlist and is the only thing that could help me to fall asleep for months. Unfortunately with 8tracks abolishing their mobile app outside of the US and Canada, I've lost the advantage but it's equally as beautiful to listen to when you're reading or working. Oh and did I mention that it features Bon Iver? What else could you need?

11. & the seatbelts are burnin our fingers by uponagreydawn

Road trip playlists are an absolute must for most of us (except my Dad, he just clicks shuffle and hopes for the best). I always try to keep mine upbeat, and in the summer these playlists are even more precious. There's nothing better than being in the car with the windows down with the perfect music playing, and so you can imagine how happy I was when I found this gem.

So there you have it, some of our favourite 8tracks playlists! 

Of course the beauty of this site is the ability to find a playlist for anything you can possibly think of (including ones inspired by characters from movies or TV shows) and in any genre.

You can add them to collections of specific types of playlists, like them so that they always show up on your homepage or go as far as creating your own. You'll be surprised at how quickly your own playlist can gather interest!

*One important thing to note is that in recent months, 8tracks scrapped the mobile app for users outside of the US and Canada and some songs will be skipped depending on various laws. 8tracks is aware of the issues and is constantly working, with the help of users, to bring back these features globally. In the meantime, don't worry you can still find plenty of good tracks!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Captain America: Civil War Review

The third Captain America movie has unsurprisingly caused a division among fans, matching the rivalry between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers.

Anyone who knows me, knows that Marvel is one of my hobbies, if following a franchise can be classed as a hobby? I guess what I’m trying to say is that I am very emotionally attached and I will fight for my favourite characters. Yes, I have been genuinely angry at friends who have said something negative about Bucky Barnes. 

The whole Team Cap and Team Iron Man drama was inevitable but the press tour was genius; I've never seen a cast interact with fans on such a large scale, and being a very involved Marvel fan myself, I really felt like I was a part of something.

One thing I will say is that your opinion could go one of two ways; you could go into the movie on one team, but walk out completely confused, or alternatively you go in confused and leave having decided firmly on a team. Personally, I was Team Cap right up until a very particular moment towards the end which I’m not going to mention, but if you’ve seen the movie you’ll probably work out which scene lead me to be very disappointed in Cap.

Despite my disappointment in Steve Rogers, I didn’t sway towards Team Iron Man and instead, after being presented with solid arguments on both sides and no clear right or wrong, I couldn't help but respect and appreciate both perspectives and I left the cinema feeling completely torn. 

This leads me on to one of the best aspects of the movie in terms of storytelling; the fact that neither team is shown to be right or wrong allows us to make up our own minds. It’s unbiased, something that doesn’t seem possible with a plot of this nature and the title ‘Civil War’. 

I had previously been reading that a lot of people were skeptical that Civil War would turn out to be more of an Avengers movie since it features so many of our favourite superheroes but I promise you, this is a Captain America movie through and through. 

You want to know how it’s so obvious? Steve and Bucky. Fans cling onto their relationship, and rightly so. The First Avenger is what drew us in and caused us to fall in love with them both, The Winter Soldier broke our hearts, leaving us in mourning for James Buchanan Barnes and Civil War was like a therapy session in which we were reunited with the Bucky we all know and love. 

The connection between these two men is something that we take a great interest in and their relationship is developed even further in this movie; you can really see the change in Bucky and it’s interesting to see how they interact now that he has a better grasp on reality and realises that The Winter Soldier hurt a lot of people. His character development is an extremely valuable aspect of Civil War, after all, he is the motivation behind a lot of Cap’s actions. 

I truly commend Anthony and Joe Russo for making sure that every single character had their moment to shine, but all the while still being sure that the focus is not solely on Tony and Steve's disagreement, but more on Steve's inner battle because like I said, it’s still a Captain America movie. 

I am absolutely relieved that Joss Whedon had nothing to do with this movie and especially with Bucky, the Russo Brothers did him and most of the other characters justice.

I think most fans will agree that each character worked perfectly, although we’re mutually angry that Sharon Carter aka Agent 13 is portrayed as Steve’s love interest. Number one; she deserved more screen time and number two; she deserved more, period. She is not just a love interest, she is a valuable character and one who most definitely did not need to be placed in the movie just for the benefit of Captain America himself. Despite this, she still proved herself as a complete badass. 

I really wanted to love T'Challa/Black Panther but I just didn’t. Sure, he’s great in the fight scenes and he was dealing with a lot of emotions, so I can see why others loved him, but to me, he was just sort of..there. He didn’t make any kind of an impact on me, which leads me to hope that I’ll grow attached to him further down the line.

I also wasn’t keen on Spiderman before the movie, but either Tom Holland himself or Spidey himself completely swayed me by the end. I say that maybe it was Tom Holland because I was watching the London Premiere live and I saw how enthusiastic he was to be there and my heart melted. 

Someone else who fits in perfectly is Ant Man. You would almost expect him to be a little out of his league but it just worked. He and Spiderman, along with Sam and Bucky’s interactions, brought a lot of humour to the movie, but as Chloe says “theres a good mix of humour and seriousness, it wasn't just full of sarcastic responses.”

Scarlet Witch has been in my top five from the first time we saw her, even though she started out as a villain. Her development is often overlooked but she was incredible as always in Civil War and I loved the dynamic between her and Steve with him wanting to protect her. I wish there’d been more interaction between her and Bucky because they’re actually pretty similar. 

Can we get more of Wanda and Vision please? Although God bless the Russo Brothers for not giving us another Bruce and Natasha situation. Don’t get me started on that.

Since I’m on the topic or romantic relationships (I couldn't not mention this, sorry), Sebastian Stan who plays Bucky has been hinting at a relationship between Bucky and Nat in almost every interview on the press tour, and the few scenes they share in Civil War, one in particular, are intriguing and open up the possibility. I know that Buckynat is in the comics and that the MCU is different but even so, Marvel could definitely go down that route if they wanted to (a large percentage of the fans want it, as does one of their lead actors…) 

PS hello Marvel, if you’re reading, this gives you yet another reason to give us our Black Widow solo movie (as if you even needed another). Thank you. 

In the early days, before the press tour, fans were upset over Thor and Hulk not being in Civil War but I feel like it would’ve been too much; the teams as they were, were perfectly balanced. 

In the big fight scenes, I did feel like there was often a lot going on and that I’d need to watch the movie multiple times to see everything but hey, I guess that’s what Marvel wants and it worked because I’m going again tomorrow. 

The funeral scene was handled well (I’m not telling you who dies but I think most of you will already know because it’s pretty obvious), but I almost feel like there should’ve been a little more emotion behind it all rather than just a text and a speech. It's as if the funeral happened and then that was it, no more dwelling on the huge loss. The person who died was a very important part of the two previous films and I believe they should’ve had a more heart-wrenching send off. 

One thing I think is vital to mention is that Tony Stark is not a villain which is what far too many people are saying. He's broken and emotionally damaged, as are the majority of the Avengers, and once you pay attention to his history, it’s very easy to see where he’s coming from. The same goes for Cap and Bucky and everyone else, they have their reasons which are all very respectable. 

I have to say that although I absolutely adored Civil War, it’s The Winter Soldier that still has a special place in my heart. For me, nothing can beat it but this next (and final) instalment of the Captain America trilogy comes very close. 

If you’re a diehard Marvel fan, you will not be disappointed. The cast and crew have done us proud. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Iconic 90s and 00s Teen Movies

You know how there are multiple social media accounts and Buzzfeed articles that are targeted specifically towards 90s kids? Yeah, well those don't really work for us.

Chloe and I were born in 1996 and 1997 respectively (a year and 18 days apart to be precise), which puts us on that border of not really being classed as '90s kids', instead we grew up predominately in the 00s but still had more than our fair share of Mary-Kate and Ashley.

Take this quiz for example, I can tick off multiple things that I enjoyed from both the 90s and the 00s but my result was "you're definitely a '00s kid, though you might have a few '90s traits about you as well. You probably owned an iPod Nano, and if you were lucky might have ridden around on Heelys as a kid."

Do you see the problem?

We've put together a list of iconic movies for people like us, movies that kids today wouldn't look twice at but ones that shaped our childhoods and can never be beaten by what true 00s kids are subjected to now. 

1. A Cinderella Story

A Cinderella Story features Hilary Duff as Sam, a high-schooler who doesn't get along with her Step-Mum or her Step-Sisters, and meets the man of her dreams, Austin (Chad Michael-Murray), online. It could've been a 00's version of Catfish, couldn't it? 

Despite the theme of Cinderella, I still don't find this movie overly cliché. Is that just me? Hilary Duff was my idol growing up, and actually wasn't a bad choice since she's still very much the same personality-wise. 

This was the first PG movie I ever owned, I distinctly remember begging my Mum to buy it for me, returning home ready to watch it and my Dad flat-out refusing until he had seen it and decided if it was appropriate. Just as well he approved, because I didn't realise how big a role it would play in my life. Even now, I'll put it on when I'm having a bad day and I'll still cry during that scene when Sam collapses on her bed in tears. 

I am still absolutely devoted to this movie and my kids will be forced to watch it. 

2. Wild Child

Chloe and I watched this last week, funnily enough! Although with old DVDs comes disc damage, meaning we missed out on some of our favourite scenes.

Wild Child stars Emma Roberts as stereotypical rich-girl Poppy, who is forced to leave Malibu behind and attend boarding school in England. 

We witness her desperate attempts to get sent home again, all while trying her hardest not to get attached to her new found friends and of course, the principal's Son, Freddie Kingsley (introducing Alex Pettyfer as one of my biggest childhood crushes) who is strictly off-limits.

One of the best aspects of this movie is probably the costumes, I would spend hours daydreaming about what they wore and attempting to look just as good at school discos. No, it never went according to plan.

I think Poppy was my first real evidence of character development, and sometimes I'll watch it just for the moments when she realises what's important to her. In other words, this movie is guaranteed to make you cry, although for the most part it will be tears of laughter.

3. Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging

I think most girls my age would agree that this movie is the ultimate coming of age movie for our generation.

Georgia Groome plays, wait for it...Georgia Nicholson; a 14 year old girl who has the same insecurities and worries that every other 14 year old girl has, making her one of the most relatable characters of our childhoods.

Our beloved Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays Robbie, who much like the actor, earned himself a permanent place in the hearts of thousands of British girls, mine included.

The dynamic between each of the characters perfectly reflects real life and I found myself grinning and cringing at every word, thinking about how much I recognised myself in the young girls on screen. They are unlikely role models, but I guess showed us how not to act, especially around boys.

The key to the success of this movie is that there's no sugarcoating, instead it provides girls everywhere with a refreshing take on friendship, first loves and growing up.

4. Mean Girls 

This movie needs no introduction; Mean Girls is the teen movie of the 00's.

Lindsay Lohan had already captured the hearts of so many of us, and so watching her battle The Plastics was a huge reward for those who had grown up along with her. We were able to see her in a movie that probably wasn't really suitable for anyone under 16 but it definitely didn't put an obstacle in its' success.

Thanks to a genius script, you probably won't find a girl who can't quote at least a quarter of the movie. I mean honestly, I think I can remember pretty much every single line and admit it, we all find excuses to unleash our inner Regina George (the quotes, at least) in every day conversations.

Unfortunately Mean Girls 2 was horrendous and nobody should have to endure the pain of watching it, but we're all desperately hoping that the rumours are true and we'll one day be treated to a real sequel with the original cast!

This movie, on the other hand, is etched into our brains.

5. She's The Man

If you've seen this movie, chances are you'll remember that iconic flip phone scene starring Channing Tatum. Oh, and remember the phrase "I'm allergic to the sun" which constantly pops up on social media? That probably originated from the mouth of Sebastian/Viola, played by Amanda Bynes, not from Twilight.

Let's face it, Viola is the queen of sassy comments, in fact if I had to pinpoint a time in my life when I started becoming more sassy and sarcastic, this movie is probably the cause. Oops.

One of the key aspects of this movie is the way Viola/Sebastian challenges sexism. I mean, the plot of the movie is based on her struggle as a female football player, and the whole reason she becomes Sebastian is so that she can keep playing football with the guys after her girls team gets cut. Along with the witty comments and the humour, the movie highlights to the younger generation that sexism is a big issue.

6. The Parent Trap

Lindsay Lohan is back with my personal favourite movie of hers, and it's one in which she has a twin who she doesn't know about. It took me years to realise that Lindsay Lohan doesn't actually have a twin and it was just down to some clever post-production...

As a result of the mischief they got up to, I grew up desperately wanting to go to Summer camp which I actually did multiple times, if you count Cubs and Scouts! What I really wanted was to be reunited with a twin I didn't know existed, but that never happened and I was very disappointed.

I think the first time I'd ever hated a character was when we were introduced to Meredith, and I loved watching her suffer; especially at the hands of two young girls who were so much smaller and younger than her.

Natasha Richardson and Dennis Quaid play their roles of Nick and Elizabeth well, so well that those big goofy smiles melted my heart and the young version of me was adamant that they belonged together, and despite the over the top acting from everyone else, you can't help but fall in love with the movie, the characters, and the plot.

I may be biased since I've always loved it, but I strongly believe that 'The Parent Trap' can be enjoyed my adults too.

7. The Lizzie McGuire Movie

Hilary Duff ruled my childhood, as did the character of Lizzie McGuire. The movie, in my opinion, was better than the series and I loved watching her and her friends explore Rome on a school trip (I still haven't had the chance to do so myself, but one day I will ride a Vespa and be offered a giant wheel of cheese).

I was one of those people who memorised the lyrics to 'What Dreams Are Made Of'. I felt like it was my job to memorise the lyrics to every Hilary Duff song, in actual fact, as though it would be useful to me in the future. So far, it has been a wasted talent.

Watching it now, I can see why my Dad hated it when I made him watch it with me repeatedly; it's not exactly subtle with the clichés. Nevertheless, I adored it and Lizzie McGuire was one of my idols.

8. Every Single Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Movie

Did you really think I could narrow down such a wide range of Olsen Twin movies to just one? Not happening.

I had every single one thanks to my wonderful Nan buying them all as boxsets for my younger cousin and I and we would spend two weeks every Summer binge-watching them. Two each night before bed with a hot chocolate was our ritual.

So many of us grew up with Mary-Kate and Ashley as our idols, and it can be argued that they taught a lot of young girls all the things we needed to know. On top of the 14 movies, they also have multiple TV series to keep us all occupied. They're cliché, yes, but ridiculously relatable.

9. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

I discovered this movie years after it was released, but it's one of my favourites. It showcases friendship in the best forms but also shows us how to overcome conflict.

Tibby, Lena, Carmen and Bridget were all fashion icons in their own right, each with vastly different personalities and interests but they were exactly the kind of friends I longed for, and not to mention the fact that they still remained in touch despite being in different parts of the country/world. Remind me again why friends lose touch so easily these days?

The one thing that holds them together is a pair of jeans which they pass along to one another over the Summer, and these jeans are the foundation of a beautiful story of love and friendship and I'm thankful that they brought these characters to life and gave me something to strive for.

Side note: I have no idea how they found one pair of jeans that fit all four of them perfectly because I can't find one pair that fits just me..

10. Aquamarine

I'm sure I could type the word 'mermaid' and you'd all be hooked, but that wouldn't do the movie justice. 

The mermaid in question, Aquamarine, has to prove to her Father that true love exists so that she doesn't have to go through with an arranged marriage, but she doesn't expect to find lifelong friends in Hayley and Claire in the process. Watching her find her feet (literally and metaphorically) is highly entertaining, and although mermaids are fantasy creatures, this character felt real. 

Aquamarine is another one of my all-time favourites, and I especially loved that none of the interactions between characters seemed forced at all. It was all genuine and refreshing, with another uplifting example of pure friendship. 

11. 10 Things I Hate About You

Meet the Stratford sisters, whose Father won't allow Bianca to date until Kat does. Only problem? Kat hates everyone. 

If there was ever a movie that sparked a female interest in bad boys, surely this is the one. I mean, you have the goody two shoes, the dorky kid who is desperately trying to get a girl's attention, the girl who refuses to take anyone's shit and the infamous guy who made us all go weak at the knees. 

This is a movie that I definitely define as a 90's classic, despite it being released in 1999. Most people my age have seen this and loved it, being able to quote Kat's poem and recognising Heath Ledger's serenade as one of the best scenes. 

12. Clueless 

If you haven't seen Clueless you're seriously missing out. You must've at least heard of it, Cher Horowitz is everywhere. Also, young Paul Rudd is adorable in this movie (not that he isn't adorable now, does the guy even age?!)

I'm not sure that there is a storyline as such, it's more about Cher, a rich girl at the top of her school's social ladder, trying to find herself and help others in order to improve herself. As a viewer, I was glued to the screen and feeling a huge sense of pride each time she made a realisation. 

Yes, she seems very superficial at first but as the movie progresses, she opens herself up and we see her charm and her wit and how at heart she's still just a high-school kid trying to work her way up in the world and impress her Father. 

Oh and of course, there's her wardrobe which is the inspiration behind most of the 90's trends we see being brought back into stores in the present day. If you were wondering, Iggy Azalea does not do Cher justice. 

13. John Tucker Must Die

I watched this around the time I began watching One Tree Hill for no reason other than the fact that it features Sophia Bush, who is still one my idols. 

After three high-school girls from different cliques discover that they're dating the same guy (Jesse Metcalfe *insert heart-eyed emoji here*), they hatch a plan to get revenge and destroy his reputation, including setting him up to fall for new girl Kate who is in on the whole thing. Ah, girl power at it's peak. 

This is the perfect example of how to do an older teen movie. There is so much that appeals to an older demographic with adult humour and sex appeal, and just like Mean Girls it's a more grown-up movie for those of us who don't necessarily want cheese and clichés; even my parents enjoyed it. 

14. The Princess Diaries

Mia is all of us, we are all Mia. She is living the dream of thousands of little girls; she's an actual princess but at heart she is the clumsiest teenage girl on the planet. 

She has no idea how to be a princess, she's awkward, unpopular and despises public speaking so really there could not be a worse fit for royalty. She's so bad at it, in fact, that she has to attend princess lessons with her Grandmother, aka the Queen

I'm still waiting for my own Grandmother to turn around and tell me I'm heir to a throne. 

Despite her failures at living up to everybody's expectations, Mia is charming and the whole movie warms your heart because she's so relatable and finds the whole 'surprise you're heir to the throne of Genovia' thing as exiting and confusing as the rest of us would. 

Did I mention there's a sequel? 

So there you have it, some of the best movies from mine and Chloe's childhood! Obviously we missed some out, but I think that we were very fortunate in the sense that we had so many classics to choose from. 

Saturday, 9 April 2016

The Affair Review

I had no idea what to expect when I began watching this, but it had me hooked right from the start. Sounds kinda lighthearted with some injections of drama every now and then, right? Wrong.

To begin with, it all seems quite cliché and obvious; a failing novelist can't resist the local waitress and starts a relationship with her. They try to hide it, people find out, everyone is furious, there are consequences.

But what happens when you throw in major plot twists and multiple sides to every story? You end up with a series that leaves you speechless with mere minutes to recover between each revelation.

Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson) and Noah Solloway (Dominic West) are undoubtedly flawed, with Noah seeming to think that his life is a novel. Someone needs to remind him that the consequences of his selfish decisions aren't fictional.

First things first, I can guarantee you that certain aspects of this show will get under your skin so let's get them out of the way first:

1. The song. The stupid theme song. I hate it, I truly do. It was okay for the first couple of episodes but now I have to mute the TV for the duration of the opening credits. I get that it's supposed to add a sense of mystery but it's tedious and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Unfortunately, I have to push my sanity aside because the content that follows is so worth it.

2. Just to warn you, you'll probably absolutely despise Noah. He's arrogant, and always says or does the wrong thing; that's his speciality. I don't think there's been a single episode where I haven't screamed at him in anger and frustration.

3. Noah's daughter, Whitney (Julia Goldani Telles), does nothing but whine and argue. However, on a lighter note, as the series has progressed so has she. I know that character growth is important and you see it all the time but I hadn't been expecting it from her. It shocked me a little that we were shown the immature version of her and then all of a sudden she makes a revelation about what she wants out of life and it all makes sense; she felt trapped and lost, suffocated by expectations. Sound familiar, anyone? If you're a young adult, chances are you can relate to her in more ways than one (yes that means you were probably whiny and annoying when you were sixteen too).

The way this show is structured is key to understanding why it's caught so much attention; viewers see situations and characters through either Alison's eyes or Noah's (and Helen's and Cole's in season two).

During the first episode when it popped up with "Part 2: Alison" I did a double take, sighed, and thought I'd be giving up on the show by the end of that first ep because I figured that the story would be pretty much the same.

What I didn't expect, was for the two perspectives to be so contrasted. That, ladies and gentleman, is the main element of drama. Viewers don't know the real truth, we just know different versions of it and it leads to a never-ending list of theories.

This is also how I've grown to love characters I hated at first, I realised for example that my first impression of Cole was from Noah's perspective, and Alison didn't exactly paint him in the best light either and so it took a while to figure out what Cole is really like.

Noah's wife, Helen (Maura Tierney), however, has always been my favourite. There is no doubt about it, she completes the show.

I mean, look at her up there, finally taking time for herself after everything her Husband and kids have put her through.

She's brilliant; she speaks her mind and you can't even hate her for being rude because we've watched her suffer for so long. There's no messing around, Helen's time is now and she knows she deserves it.

I can't help but think that perhaps I love her because she hates Noah as much as I do..

Alison Lockhart (Ruth Wilson) is just as selfish as Noah, obviously, but I can't help but feel attached to her. She is completely broken after the death of her and Cole's son (technically not a spoiler because it happened before the story begins) and it has put an irreparable rift between the two.

She has stated multiple times that she has no direction in life so it's pretty clear to see that she was having an existential crisis at the time she met Noah, and when you combine that with the issue of Cole completely isolating her and forcing her to grieve alone, it makes her actions seem slightly justifiable.

In fact, Ruth Wilson herself said "As an actor, you have to empathise with every character you play. So with Alison, I understood exactly why she had an affair. I understood why she met this man and needed to escape from her life. I don’t judge her actions."

Side note: Noah still has no excuse for anything and nobody can convince me otherwise. 

To begin with, I couldn't stand him but now I'm rooting for Cole to be happy. I hated him for being so arrogant and blind to Alison's feelings but now I get it a little more; he was grieving in his own way and didn't know how to do that with another person.

His character development is monumental, allowing us to eventually see how broken he truly is and how he's desperately trying to change his life for the better and take care of his family.

Speaking of his family, the Lockharts have enough drama between them to create a whole new series based on them. The majority of the drama in 'The Affair' is centred around Cole's brother, Scotty, actually and I wasn't expecting to like his character at all but I did for a while.

I may be biased because I love Colin Donnell so much but I definitely think that he is one of the best actors of the show. Not that the rest aren't great (especially Maura Tierney), but Donnell is portraying a guy who is drunk or high on drugs most times we see him and he does so flawlessly. Thinking about it, have we ever seen a sober Scotty Lockhart?

Due to the nature of the show, you almost don't want to like it and you feel morally wrong for genuinely enjoying it and tuning in each week, but despite how twisted and flawed every character is, you're sucked in by it. You cling onto their every word, action and mistake and find yourself wanting more drama.

This show is not just about romance; it's about grief, heartbreak and downfalls and I love every single second of it.

Season 3 is coming to Sky 1 later this year or you can watch on demand on Sky Go! 

Thursday, 7 April 2016


To be perfectly honest, I can't remember the first NEEDTOBREATHE masterpiece I heard, but what I do remember is listening to 'The Heart' and knowing that there was no turning back. I am more than willing to admit that I have fallen head over heels for them.

I only discovered a few days ago that they're a Christian rock band but if you're not religious then don't let that fact deter you. Trust me when I tell you that you won't notice, unless you want to of course.

They have managed to bridge the gap between mainstream and Christian music and when you combine this with the fact that their songs vary in style, subject and tempo, you're left with at least one album to fall in love with.

The word 'mainstream' can sound terrifying to those of us who aren't so into what the majority listen to, but their music remains honest and open and true to who they are and where they come from so honestly, that label is pretty irrelevant.

I do feel the need (ha) to give them credit for sticking to a theme of faith and God. Yes, I know I said you won't notice, and I stand by that statement, but it's something to admire. Religion is evidently a huge part of their lives, and you have to respect them for not dancing around the subject yet still attracting so many people who don't follow a particular faith.

Writing this, I'm wondering why on Earth I didn't pay much attention to their music before this year, especially since they have five albums already. Yes, five, which means I (and you) have missed out on five whole albums worth of songs and I'm slightly mad about it.

I'm so thankful that NEEDTOBREATHE have hit the mainstream because I'm not sure that I, a girl from a tiny seaside town in England, would have ever had the chance to hear their music if they had remained a small band from South Carolina.

I could review a specific album, but that wouldn't be fair to the rest of their music so here's my personal top five songs to get you started:

 1. The Heart


Let me start off with my absolute favourite, and not just my favourite song by NEEDTOBREATHE but quite possibly my favourite song in general. In fact, I love it so much that I almost got some of the lyrics tattooed (I'm still planning on it at some point).

This song is the ultimate feel good track that can make you positive about anything. I was feeling a little lost when I discovered this on Spotify, in the sense that I know what I want out of life but at times feel that I'll never get to where I want to be, and then I heard the phrase "long live the heart, long live the soul, that knows what it wants" and since then have told myself that I will get there.

Yes, I know I sound cliché but honestly it was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.

This track has hints of folk and country, which is what I love the most about it. It's energetic and upbeat and is the perfect one to reel people in. Try to listen to it and not tap your foot or clap your hands or click or whatever, I'm 99.9% sure it's impossible to stop yourself.

 2. Keep Your Eyes Open

Another one that really speaks to my heart. In three weeks I turn nineteen and enter my final year before I'm truly classed as an adult, and that genuinely terrified me before recently. I'm expected to already have my life figured out and I have the big picture sussed, but not the minor details.

I have absolutely no idea what my life is going to be like in one year, two years, five years. None of us do, and it can hold us back. We remain in one place, scared to take any big steps in case they turn out to be the wrong ones and we never take risks.

My parents always say to me that they don't want me to have the life they've ended up with and I always thought "Well then what else am I supposed to do? What other life is there?" because the life they have, that I'm a part of, is the only one I know.

This song features a lyric that may seem generic, "if you never leave home, never let go, you'll never make it to the great unknown", but when you listen to the passion behind it and the rawness of the song, it'll make you feel things that no pop song ever could; it genuinely motivates you to keep pushing for what you want.

 3. Nothing Left To Lose


Do you have those songs that remind you of growing up? I can't explain it, but this one does that. It makes me think of long car journeys with my family, and almost feels like it has a bit of a Bryan Adams vibe at the start.

The band has stated that this one "is about sacrificing everything for what you believe in. It’s about complete and utter devotion" and personally, I think it will either make you want to drown in your tears or, once again, motivate you.

The way I perceive it is that we're alive and we always have a choice. You're never "stuck", you can always change something. Oh look, I'm being cliché again, but I really can't help it!

Quick tip, this song sounds even better when it's played very, very loudly. You're welcome.

 4. Brother


Yep, I love Gavin DeGraw, so you can imagine how happy I was to see that NEEDTOBREATHE had released a collaboration with him. This has popped up on the majority of the Spotify playlists I've listened to over the past few months, ultimately proving that it's as wonderful as I thought.

The band have made it known that they went through a tough time and state that they realised how much they needed each other, and what better way to document that journey than with a song about support and love for your closest friends?

This is hands down one of the most uplifting songs I've heard and it went straight on my shower playlist. It's anthemic, soulful and way too catchy for my own good, especially when the gospel background vocals hit!

I think what makes this song so special is knowing how much it means to the band and how significant it is in telling not just their story, but also the stories of so many of us. I don't have a brother, or any siblings in fact, but it really tugs at my heartstrings and makes me think of everyone I love.

 5. Happiness


Last on the list, and you'll see why at the end of this blog post, is 'Happiness'. I can barely put into words how this song makes me feel, but I'll give it my best shot.

Like I said above, I know where I want to be but not how to get there and this song is the perfect boost for when I feel like I'm reaching too high.

I mean, "I've got dreams that keep me up in the dead of night, telling me I wasn't made for the simple life". Could the lyrics be any more perfect for someone with their whole life ahead of them? No, not really.

And now, since I am being taunted by such a far away release date for their next album, I'm going to let NEEDTOBREATHE taunt you too!:

I am over the moon that we're being treated to yet more music, and if every song they've ever released so far and 'Happiness' (from the upcoming album) is anything to go by, 'H A R D L O V E' isn't going to disappoint.

For my birthday, I'll be pre-ordering the vinyl and accepting it as a gift from myself. You're welcome, future me.

I know July 15th seems like a lifetime away (in fact, ninety-nine days away as I write this) but if you pre-order it now you'll get 'Happiness' and 'Money & Fame' as instant downloads!

You can pre-order 'H A R D L O V E' here: 

iTunes (UK)
Google Play 
Amazon (UK) 
CD & Vinyl Bundles 

Where to find the band: 

Stream on Spotify


Friday, 18 March 2016

Playlists For Every Occasion: Spotify Edition

For me personally, I can't do much without music to guide me. If I have access to a Spotify app, chances are I'll waste at least ten minutes of my time finding an appropriate playlist. Sure, you could create your own personalised playlist but then how will you find new music to fall in love with?

I've put together a list of fifteen playlists on Spotify that will work in whatever situation or mood you find yourself in!

1. Born in 1997 by Maddie Dragsbaek 

I've been following Maddie on Spotify for around a year now and I can always rely on her to provide me with songs that match my music taste so as you can imagine, I was over the moon when I saw that she had a public playlist featuring throwback songs that every 90s kid will love. Now I'm not just talking Britney and the Spice Girls, this playlist is perfect for those of us who weren't so into the whole cliché pop scene growing up and instead opt for Jimmy Eat World, Weezer and Norah Jones to name a few but of course, the cliché pop songs definitely shouldn't be overlooked and you can still find plenty. 

2. Morning Commute by Spotify 

Bus journeys and car journeys can be tiring, I'm not sure that any of us particularly want to be heading out the door to work, school or college at the crack of dawn but when we're faced with no other choice, we can at least be safe in the knowledge that there are playlists out there to guide you through the oh-so-painful process. Spotify provides us with the perfect solution, with Zara Larsson and Kygo ensuring that you can cope with the day even if you don't get your morning coffee. 

3. Live To Run by Spotify 

Working out is tough; there's no denying it. Even for people who actually enjoy it and are motivated, you need something to focus on. Your hard work and commitment to being healthy deserves a motivational playlist! Allow Sigma, Elle King and Jungle to push you to your limits. 

4. The Stress Buster by Spotify

I use this playlist as a tool to tackle my stress as it happens, not just once it's already built up. I've listened to plenty of acoustic playlists and relaxing ones to try to help, but nothing compares to this. There is a perfect balance of upbeat songs and ones to soothe you, so next time you're about to sit down and battle against a huge load of work, put this on! 

5. Peaceful Piano by Spotify 

Another way to beat stress is to have a relaxing bubble bath. Now admittedly, I use this time to watch Netflix, as do most of us, but sometimes you need to just let the music take you away. A couple of years ago I never would've listened to instrumental pieces but now I can't stop, I even went as far as getting a tattoo inspired by a piece of music. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this playlist won't remind you of your Nan, but will instead open you up to a whole genre of music that you didn't know you'd ever appreciate. 

6. The Most Beautiful Songs In The World by Spotify

This is entirely different to the Peaceful Piano playlist, in fact I'd say it's more for those moments when you're deep in thought and you're feeling reflective. I'm not saying that it's all doom and gloom, these songs are indeed so beautiful that they're often quite overwhelming and can take your mind off things. Side note: Bon Iver appears on this playlist frequently so if you didn't love or know of Bon Iver before, you definitely will after listening to this. 

7. Life Sucks by Spotify 

This playlist isn't uplifting as such, but it's more a helping hand in reassuring you that you're not alone. Sometimes you just need to be hurt and have a good cry so rather than sit and suffer in silence, you can let this playlist speak for you. 

8. Self Medication by Maddie Dragsbaek

Maddie is back at it again, providing me with the ultimate playlist for when I just need to self-indulge and feel good about myself. I either put this on when I'm suffering a lack of faith in myself, or when I'm getting ready and need music to remind me to love myself. Yes, that's right, this is a playlist that will delay you in getting ready because you keep losing yourself in the music. 

9. March On by Meghan Rose 

We all go through periods of feeling like we'll never get over something, or we're stuck in a rut of feeling lost and unable to let our creativity flow. I find that this playlist reminds me of Spring, maybe because that's the season for new beginnings and you're finally in that final stretch before Summer. 

10. Evening Commute by Spotify 

This is the opposite version of the Morning Commute playlist, and is ideal for when you're going home and you're super close to being able to fully relax. There are a few of the same artists, but just as you need to be relaxed at the start of your journey, you need to be relaxed at the end too. 

11. Evening Acoustic by Spotify 

This playlist is my key to falling asleep quickly. I previously switched between this and one on 8tracks but since the 8tracks app is no longer available outside of North America and Canada, this is now my sole friend. Bon Iver, The Staves and James Vincent McMorrow are the artists I rely on to drift me off to sleep. 

12. Songs to Sing in the Car by Spotify 

If you want cheesy pop music then look no further. Of course Uptown Funk is on here, that was almost inevitable, but you also have some Maroon 5 and Sara Bareilles to lift the spirits of everyone in the car. Spotify has provided you with the perfect tool to embarrass yourself to your heart's content. 

13. Move On & Don't Look Back by Spotify 

Done hating the world? Want to get on with your life? This playlist is the necessary next step. Sure, some will make you cry but mostly you'll be left wondering why you were upset in the first place. 

14. Happy Place by chasingemilie

Yes, this is mine, and yes, it includes a lot of country and folk music. No, I have no shame in admitting I like those genres. I've always wanted to live in a small southern town in the US and that's ultimately my end goal so when I feel like the future is really overwhelming and stress is taking over, I like to listen to this playlist I put together which reminds me that I have so much to strive for and so much to look forward to. Rest assured, it's not all country and folk, and even the songs that are aren't cliché. 


15. March 16 by chasingemilie

This is called 'March 16' but honestly I love it so much that I'm going to carry it over into April. It consists of all of my favourite songs at the moment, with a wide range of genres and I guess I'm just sharing it with you in the hope that you find some new music that you love just as much as I do.  

I hope that at least one of these playlists inspires you, keep an eye out for an 8tracks edition coming soon! 
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