Musical Discovery: ‘Hard to Be Myself’ by Fickle Friends

‘Something a bit different’ was how Fickle Friends described their latest single in a tweet last month. Whilst a more synth-heavy track could certainly be described as ‘different’ compared to  the usual funky guitar vibes, the five-piece band from Brighton once again strike a hit with their latest bop, Hard to Be Myself.

It’s a track which is as catchy as it is relatable. Soft vocals from lead singer Natti see her talk about overthinking, reading between the lines and feeling like ‘a prisoner to [the] mood‘. We’ve all been there: sitting in the corner of a party feeling lost and insecure when everyone else is dancing away. It’s a song about a position we’ve all been in, beautifully presented with bouncy synth and triplet vocals, and soul.

Hard to Be Myself is available now on Spotify, iTunes, and Apple Music.

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Musical Discovery: ‘Ego’ by Ella Eyre feat. Ty Dolla $ign (Jack Wins Remix)

A successful remix is always one which could be passed off as the original, if the listener hasn’t heard anything different. In my case, as I listened to Jack Wins’ remix of Ella Eyre’s Ego, despite knowing it wasn’t the initial song, it certainly sounded like the first version.

There’s no denying that Eyre’s vocals can’t fit a good dance track (look no further than her recent hits with Sigma and Sigala, which both entered the UK Top 40). From something a bit tropical (Came Here for Love) or drum-and-bass (Good Times), Jack’s remix shows Ella’s suitability for a more club-like sound. With the original version adopting a slow calypso, the club version injects some much-needed fun and pace into the track. Whilst the initial track’s chorus contains nothing more than flowing drums and soulful vocals from Ella, Jack Wins brings a new instrumental melody to this part of the song which gives it that added punch.

Disappointingly minimalistic in its makeup, the slower tempo of Ella’s song lacks a satisfying beat drop and chorus. It may well serve as a more atmospheric single compared to the 23-year-old’s previous, fast-paced pop releases, but it just lacks a certain substance. Ego sounds very much like a track one would see accompanying a big-budget emotional movie trailer. It is great background listening, and is comfortably mediocre, but there’s nothing there to warrant our full attention.

This brings me to Jack Wins’ remix, and my point about this having the potential to be considered the original. The Dutch DJ’s impressive portfolio of hits shows he is no stranger to creating the perfect hook, beat drop and chorus, and fixes all the mistakes in the initial track with ease.

The underwhelming beat drop at the start is replaced with a satisfying drum fill, followed by a chorus complete with a bouncy rhythm and sharp synth chords to set the tone. Yet again, like his Rockabye remix, Jack Wins cuts out the featured rapper in the track (Ty Dolla $ign) for the benefit of the song as a whole.

With a perfect balance between adding new things to the song, and taking other parts away, Jack’s remix style yet again brings out the best in a single in a way that makes it his own – and if that’s not the sign of a good remix, then I don’t know what is.

Musical Discovery: ‘Dancing in the Daylight’ by Scouting for Girls

It’s been a while since we danced to She’s So Lovely at school discos. Scouting for Girls’ strong collection of pop hits were always popular throughout the noughties and early 2010s – HeartbeatElvis Ain’t Dead and This Ain’t A Love Song were songs about love and heartbreak with cheesy guitar melodies and straightforward vocals. Now, 10 years on from their debut, the band return with Dancing in the Daylight.

It’s a song taken from their upcoming album, Ten Add Ten – a release which will see 10 of the four-piece’s biggest tracks appear alongside 10 new songs. If it wasn’t for the fact that they’re celebrating such an anniversary, then the continuous regurgitating of their biggest hits would have been a bit tiresome by now (they released their Greatest Hits album in 2013 and have also re-released their debut album this year). However, there’s something smart about the idea behind Ten Add Ten: an album which will no doubt take a look back, whilst also looking forward.

Yet, Dancing in the Daylight contains all the elements of a traditional Scouting for Girls song, as opposed to being something completely different. From lyrics about a midnight kiss, to bouncy piano chords and a lively drum beat, it’s packed full of bubbly euphoria which fits the tone of the song perfectly. With hints of a Heartbeat vibe, Dancing in the Daylight sees Scouting for Girls give us a wonderful sense of nostalgia and another good song to have a dance to.

Ten Add Ten is set to be released on October 13.

Introducing ‘The Impaired Judgement Podcast’

There’s hosting a radio show, then there’s creating a podcast. The former, I have done now, on-and-off, for around two years. When it comes to the latter, despite my presenting experience, was all very new to me – that is, until today.


At 5pm, the very first episode of Impaired Judgement – my podcast which sees me and other disabled people cast a critical eye over the latest disability news – went live on YouTube (and soon, it will be available on iTunes). Despite being in front of a microphone many times before, I still struggled to find the right place to start – although I did have a detailed plan of things to discuss.

Thankfully, I had my good friend Connor to discuss things with, as he was my first guest on the podcast. Reaching the 30-40 minute target was easy. However, coming up with the name was particularly tricky (an earlier idea was Sign of the Times, before I realised that Harry Styles may have a few words). The great thing was that this new name contained a similar level of wordplay – ‘impaired judgement’ being a common phrase, but it also nicely sums up a podcast which sees disabled people discuss the latest news.

Looking ahead, the aim is to build up my ability to improvise when thinking (I often rely on scripts when on radio), and hopefully have at least one guest on per episode. How frequent the podcasts will be is something I still need to figure out, but I hope to keep a regular flow going for as long as possible.

Nevertheless, if you’re interested in hearing myself and Connor discuss noisy restaurants, the latest MMR vaccine statistics and schizophrenia, then you can give the first episode of the podcast a listen on YouTube.

Kygo develops his tropical house sound with ‘Stargazing’ EP

If one was to look a bit too deeply into the name of Kygo’s new EP, then you may think that Stargazing is a nod to the Norwegian DJ’s inspirations. After all, with U2 – one of his favourite bands – featured on You’re the Best Thing About Me, and country-style guitars appearing on This Town (which may be seen as an homage to Avicii), what’s not to say that the producer’s latest release sees him gaze at his ‘stars’ with admiration?

Though, first and foremost, the name of the EP comes from the title of the opening track, which sees Kygo (real name Kyrre Gørvell-Dahll) collaborate with American singer, Justin Jesso. Once again, whether it’s the delicate chords in the verses which intertwine with the Jesso’s rhythm, or the bouncy stabs underneath the choppy vocals in the chorus, Kyrre’s talents with the piano shine through once again. Add this to Jesso’s voice – which has the ability to be both soft and soulful (with a slight rasp to it) – and imaginative vocals, then you have a successful first track which certainly sets the tone and lives up to its name.

What follows next is two tracks we’ve heard before: It Ain’t Me (feat. Selena Gomez) and First Time (feat. Ellie Goulding), so there’s a possibility that a few people will be annoyed at the lack of new material on the EP, but at last, we have the release which includes these previous singles. Kyrre’s collaboration with Gomez sees a brief guitar melody before quickly descending into the traditional piano tune with slight vocal distortion. It’s fitting that it follows on from Stargazing, as there’s certainly a few similarities.

Compare this to First Time and you have a more minimalistic sound from Kyrre. Yet again, the producer paves the way for the vocalist (in this case, Goulding) to take centre stage in the verses, before slowly progressing into the drop. Yet, the build-up this time around feels calmer and more stripped back. Rather than a melody playing before the main tune, Kyrre relies on Ellie’s vocals in the pre-chorus before introducing the interlude. It’s a movement which makes an interesting change from other tracks, highlighting a lighter tone from the DJ.

However, by far the most intriguing track of the five is This Town. The second new song on the EP, Kygo ditches the heavy, plucky synth and piano for a more chill, country vibe. It was something the artist flirted with a little in his track with Kodaline, Raging, but now it has a much stronger influence. The tempo is slow and in a sense, it feels more like a Sasha Sloan track than a song by Kygo, as yet again, Kyrre places heavy emphasis on the featured vocalist.

It’s a track which moves away from the Cloud Nine era whilst also building upon it, but it’s not the only song on the EP to do so, as the record comes to a close with a collaboration with U2 for a remix of their track, You’re the Best Thing About Me.

Whilst Kygo has always preferred piano or acoustic guitar in his tracks, he can now have a bit of fun with a grittier guitar sound that Bono and co. like to use in their music. In that regard, Kyrre does a great job of preserving the best parts of the original (including the smooth guitar and, for the most part, Bono’s unique sound) whilst adding a bit of a spring to the tempo and some slight distortion in his melody.

As an EP which shows off Kygo’s remixing capabilities and his new direction alongside his traditional sound, it may not be just the stars which the Norwegian is looking at, as it’s a release which shows that the DJ is very much looking onwards and upwards.

Thoughts on Freshers Week 2017

A calendar is pinned up on my noticeboard and once again, a strict routine returns to my life. Dissertation deadlines and exam dates have been added, and I’m back in the mindset which sees me look ahead and soldier on. Although, that hasn’t stopped me from taking a step back this week, as Freshers Week at the University of Lincoln got underway.

In full, the week saw me see Radio 1’s Scott Mills and Chris Stark, Lethal Bizzle – which was an interesting experience for someone who doesn’t like that music at all – and Pendulum (although two of the main three DJs, such as Rob Swire, weren’t present). There were also two of the main club nights in Lincoln – QUACK! and Superbull – as well as a quiz, which we took the cash gamble and lost. Damn.

Other than that, with lessons starting next week, the past seven days have seen me be stuck in some sort of limbo. Aside from working on my radio show yesterday and going to my course’s Welcome Talk for this year, having a week to wait for things to pick up again did make me feel somewhat lazy. I was able to get other things on my to-do list done, but not as much as I would have liked. Annoyingly, I know that I’ll have the motivation to get other things outside of my coursework done – in my spare time, of course – once my course starts again properly tomorrow.

Tonight will hopefully see me take part in my last Freshers Week activity (a ‘rock and roll bingo’) before my Court Reporting and Political Journalism sessions.

The fun starts tomorrow…

Behind the Scenes: The Russell Howard Hour

Even when we didn’t have to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), an exciting opportunity came my way at the start of this month and only now do I feel comfortable enough to talk about it without fearing a lawsuit or a scary PR email. The opportunity in question was to go and see a recording of a new TV show on Sky 1, The Russell Howard Hour.

When I say ‘we’, I also brought my friend along to see what was essentially the pilot of the series (the first episode aired last night). After getting lost and going for a walk, we finally stumbled across the venue and it was only then that I realised that the Television Centre meant the Television Centre that was used by the BBC before moving to the New Broadcasting House. That was pretty cool.

After queuing for quite a while we were ushered in, given a free bottle of Fosters (cheers – I don’t drink but I appreciated the gesture) and took our seat in the audience. As we looked at the open set, with plenty of space for Russell to run around, it was clear that the show was going to have a Good News vibe – however big or small. In fact, those who saw Thursday night’s show will probably agree with the view I had when filming finished: it’s essentially Good News on Sky 1.

However, I’m not complaining. I missed the show when it took its hiatus from the BBC, and despite its many similarities, there are some new segments which prevent it from being a full-on carbon copy of the Beeb’s format (such as the Playground Politics section, for example).

Anyway, I digress: the behind the scenes insight was interesting. If you’ve been to Universal Orlando and have seen the Indiana Jones stunt show, then imagine that but without the exaggerated acting, of course.

James Gill did a great job warming the audience up ahead of each part – it’s amazing how excited you can make a crowd of people with nothing more than a simple clapping exercise and a packet of Haribo.

Other noteable parts of the pilot to mention were the stand-up section (delivered by a hilarious junior doctor and comedian called Kwame Asante) and an interesting interview with Olympian Amy Williams. Howard’s humour in between takes also showed that he is a decent bloke off camera/stage too.

Much like how seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child made me appreciate all the important work that goes on off-stage, going to a recording of a TV show has led to me appreciating these people a lot more. No more ignoring the credits.

If you fancy being in the audience for a recording of The Russell Howard Hour, free tickets are available here.