The Queen still reigns

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It was the by far the biggest thing to come out of the music industry in 2013. Beyoncé’s brand new self-titled 5th album dropped on the 13th of December last year, surprising not just the fans, but everyone in the industry too.

After taking a break from the limelight to spend quality time with baby daughter Blue Ivy, Mrs. Carter made the comeback of a lifetime with what she likes to call her ‘visual album’ – 14 tracks with a music video accompanying each, as well as 3 bonus music videos. The album sees collaborations with husband Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Drake and even Blue Ivy herself. Recording began in 2012 and continued under strict secrecy during her 2013 world tour. The album was unexpectedly released on iTunes on the 13th of December with absolutely no prior announcements or promotions and generated around 1.2 million tweets within the first 12 hours, with the Guardian hailing the release as ‘Beyoncégeddon’.

The new album is very different to Beyoncé’s usual sound. After the initial phases of excitement wore off the general public, lots of fans took to twitter and other social media sites to express their opinions. There was a lot of disappointment, as Beyoncé usually writes signature anthems of sorts, and this album saw her show a completely different side of her, but mostly people loved it. She describes the album as a ‘labour of love’ and something that is ‘incredibly personal’. Through the album, Beyoncé aimed to connect with her fans on a deeper level, by baring herself to them completely. It is her singing about sex and fear and passion and insecurity, all culminating into this wonderful, raw body of music.

Whilst it was risky of her to sing about such personal subjects, it has only got her more respect. It’s exciting to see how her sound has changed and how her music is evolving with her as she turns the page into a new chapter of her life. Yes, there were fans that were disappointed because they were expecting tunes like ‘Single Ladies’ again, but on the whole, the response to the album has been explosive.

Beyoncé’s 5th album has shown that, even in the midst of having her first child and touring the world, she can still make an absolutely kick ass album, AND manage to keep the entire thing a secret. After all, there is a reason why they call her Queen Bey.

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Sam Smith takes london

It was the sudden flashing lights and the collective, euphoric scream, filling the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire that signaled Sam Smith’s arrival on to the stage. Kicking off his first London show on his sold out first UK tour ever with the song he named his E.P after – “Nirvana”, he had fans singing his lyrics to him right from the first second.

blog sam  Following “Nirvana”, Sam performed a number of his original songs including his  latest single, current UK Number 1 “Money on My Mind” as well as songs he is  featured on, such as the worldwide hit ‘La La La’ which he recorded with Naughty  Boy, and Disclosure’s “Latch”.

Performing at this venue was clearly very personal for Sam, who explained to the  fans that it was a dream come true to play there for his first London show. He told  everyone on the top balcony that he’d left chocolates for them, because he knew  they weren’t the best seats, which seemed to make them love him even more!

Even if he was nervous, it only worked to his advantage. His meek “I’m so sorry if I  burp, I’ve just had a massive Nandos!” only reeled his audience in even further, as did his cheeky smile and his chuckle when a female fan yelled ‘you’re a sex god!’ in between songs. His lively cover of the Arctic Monkey’s ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ had everyone dancing and shouting the lyrics as if their lives depended on it, and he fed off the energy and put on an incredible show.

What amazed me was that listening to Sam Smith live was like listening to his studio recordings; the passionate tone and soulfulness was amplified at the concert, and the chemistry between him and his band was great. Even though this was his first show in London the musicianship of him and his band gave the impression that these were experienced performers, undaunted by performing in the capital.

Personally, I am a huge fan of Sam Smith, and this concert was everything I had hoped for and more – I fully recommend getting tickets for one of his next gigs otherwise you’re missing out!

Choons To Chillax To

sammyBeing a uni student, balancing deadlines, sleep cycles and what to eat for dinner can sometimes get quite overbearing. Stress affects everyone, but I find that having a soothing playlist is often the best remedy for any problem, so here is a small selection of tunes that are perfect to listen to after a long day when you just need to unwind.

 1) Sam Smith – Nirvana (Acoustic version)

Sam Smith has one of the most beautifully soulful voices I have ever heard. He’s releasing his debut album in May, however he has already released his E.P Nirvana. You can’t go wrong with a bit of Sam at any time!

2) Bastille – Oblivion

This song is a song that I often play when I can’t sleep – and it always works.

3) Sam Smith x Nile Rodgers x Disclosure x Jimmy Napes – Together

This tune is brilliant because it’s really versatile in a way, it kind of adapts to suit your mood. I find it’s perfect to both unwind to and to play when I’m getting ready to go out! The combination of Sam Smith, Nile Rodgers, Disclosure and Jimmy Napes is phenomenal.

4) Mogwai – Wizard Motor

I only discovered this one recently, but sometimes songs without lyrics are perfect for easy listening after a long day. It’s quite different, but so soothing and hey, no words to memorize, just quality music!

5) UB40 – Red, Red wine

‘Nuff said.

6) Hey Now – London Grammar

It’s not just this one song, the entire album is absolutely incredible. Named ‘If You Wait’ the bands debut album is full of haunting melodies and soft instrumentals that are perfect to relax to. 

7) Jose Gonzalez- Heartbeats

This song has a lot good memories for me, so whenever I play it, I get to relive them. I think it’s amazing when a song is able to do that.

8) Lana Del Rey – Video Games

No relaxing playlist is complete without a bit of Lana. Her voice continues to mesmerise me no matter how many times I listen to her. This is a great, slow track, really peaceful.

So these are a few songs from my relaxation playlist; get in touch in the comments section of this post or via our facebook page if you have any others that you’d like to share, we’d love to have a listen!